So you probably know about Minecraft. It’s a game where kids build things online and it is a worldwide hit. Now get ready for Roblox, it’s another gaming platform where users create their own worlds, characters and adventures except they can sell their creations. If you haven’t heard of Roblox, it already has 48 million monthly users (compared to Minecraft’s 55 million).
Roblox launched in 2005 so it has been a slow burn, however, it gained prominence in March 2017 when it raised US$92m in Series C funding from two large VC firms. This is serious capital for the company to fund further growth.
Players sign up, choose their character (or avatar) and get an area to play with (or some real estate as the site calls it). They get a tool box to begin building things and can then start earning Roblox currency by creating cool stuff.
The game can be played on any platform – PC, tablet, Xbox – and is cloud based. Once someone creates a game, anyone can access it and Roblox’s creator, CEO David Baszucki, says it’s a safe environment for kids to hang out and create things. Popular in-game games created by kids themselves include Roblox High School, Work at a Pizza or Mad Paintball.
3 years ago the platform introduced revenue sharing, giving the ability for the kid creators to earn real money through anything they sell online. Some people are earning up to $50,000 / month. One example is 17 year old Lithuanian Laimonas Mileska who has earned more than US$100,000 and now has his own development studio to create games specifically for Roblox.
For parents a platform like this may trigger mixed feelings. On one hand, encouraging creativity in reward for real money is a good thing. Many parents want their kids to develop an entrepreneurial streak and support this by helping them set up a lemonade stand or selling handmade trinkets etc. However, the internet equivalent means hundreds of hours in front of a screen which may be a concern for many – so it’s really up to each family to decide what works for them. It is free to join and parents have the ability customise security settings (for ages over 13).
According to the site, Roblox is consistent with the educational theory that kids learn best when they are in the role of an active builder or designer (called ‘constructionism’). Kids are literally able to create whatever they want and share it. You can see the appeal. It’s like building Lego then getting 48 million friends to see if they want to play with it.