The Roblox logo
|Platform(s)||Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Xbox One|
September 1, 2006
December 11, 2012
July 16, 2014
November 20, 2015
|Genre(s)||Game creation system, massively multiplayer online|
Roblox is an online game platform and game creation system that allows users to program games and play games created by other users. Founded by David Baszucki and Erik Cassel in 2004 and released in 2006, the platform hosts user-created games of multiple genres coded in the programming language Lua. For most of Roblox's history, it was relatively small, both as a platform and a company, due to both co-founder Baszucki's lack of interest in press coverage and it being "lost among the crowd" in a large number of platforms released around the same time. Roblox began to grow rapidly in the second half of the 2010s, and this growth has been accentuated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Roblox is free-to-play, with in-game purchases available through a virtual currency called "Robux". As of August 2020, Roblox has over 164 million monthly active users, with it being played by over half of all children aged under 16 in the United States. Roblox has received generally positive reviews from critics.
Roblox allows players to create their own games using its proprietary engine, Roblox Studio, which can then be played by other users. Games are coded under an object-oriented programming system utilizing the programming language Lua to manipulate the environment of the game. Users are able to create purchasable content through one-time purchases, known as "game passes", as well as microtransactions which can be purchased more than once, known as "developer products" or "products". A percentage of the revenue from purchases is split between the developer and Roblox Corporation. The majority of games produced using Roblox Studio are developed by children, and a total of 20 million games a year are produced using it.
Items and currency
Roblox allows players to buy, sell, and create virtual items which can be used to decorate their virtual character that serves as their avatar on the platform. Clothes can be bought by anyone, but only players with a premium membership can sell them. Only Roblox administrators can sell accessories, body parts, gear, and packages under the official Roblox user account; virtual hats and accessories can also be published by a select few users with past experience working with the Roblox Corporation. There are several individuals who design items as a full-time job, with the highest-earning creators making over $100,000 a year off item sales. Items with a limited edition status can only be traded between or sold by users with premium membership status.
Robux is the virtual currency in Roblox that allows players to buy various items. Players can obtain Robux by purchasing it with real currency, from a recurring stipend given to members with premium membership, and from other players by producing and selling virtual content in Roblox. Robux acquired through the sale of user-generated content can be exchanged into real-world currency through the website's Developer Exchange system. There are a sizeable amount of scams relating to Robux, largely revolving around automated messages promoting scam websites, scam games designed to appear to give out free Robux, and invalid Robux codes.
Roblox occasionally hosts real-life and virtual events. They have in the past hosted events such as BloxCon, which was a convention for ordinary players on the platform. Roblox operates annual Easter egg hunts, and occasionally engages in events to promote films, such as ones held for Wonder Woman 1984 and Aquaman. Roblox also hosts an annual event called the “Bloxy Awards”, an awards ceremony which also functions as a fundraiser. The 2020 edition of the Bloxy Awards, held virtually on the platform, drew 600,000 viewers.
Roblox Corporation annually hosts its Roblox Developers Conference, a three-day invite-only event in San Francisco where top content creators on the site learn of upcoming changes to the platform. Roblox Corp. has also hosted similar events in London and Amsterdam.
The beta version of Roblox was created by co-founders David Baszucki and Erik Cassel in 2004, originally under the name DynaBlocks. Baszucki started testing the first demos that year. In 2005, the company changed its name to Roblox, and it officially launched on September 1, 2006. In March 2007, Roblox became compliant with COPPA, with the addition of safe chat, a change that limited the communication ability of users under the age of thirteen by restricting them to selecting predefined messages from a menu. In August, Roblox applied server improvements and released a premium membership service named "Builders Club". This paid membership feature was rebranded as Roblox Premium in September 2019.
In December 2011, Roblox held their first Hack Week, an annual event where Roblox developers work on outside-the-box ideas for new developments to present to the company. On December 11, 2012, an iOS version of Roblox was released, and on July 16, 2014, an Android version was released. On October 1, 2013, Roblox released its Developer Exchange program, allowing developers to exchange Robux earned from their games into real-world currencies.
On May 31, 2015, a feature called 'Smooth Terrain' was added, increasing the graphical fidelity of the terrain and changing the physics engine from a block-oriented style to a smoother and more realistic style. On November 20, Roblox was launched on Xbox One, with an initial selection of 15 games chosen by Roblox staff. New Roblox games for the Xbox One have to go through an approval process, and are subject to the Entertainment Software Ratings Board standards.
In April 2016, Roblox launched Roblox VR for Oculus Rift. At the time of release, more than ten million games were available in 3D. Around the same time period, the safe chat feature was removed and replaced by a system based on a whitelist with a set of acceptable words for users under 13 years old and a set of blacklisted words for other users. In June, the company launched a version compatible with Windows 10. While the game platform has had a presence on the PC since 2004, when its web version was created, this was the first time it was upgraded with a standalone launcher built for Windows.
Throughout 2017, Roblox engaged in a number of updates to its server technology, as the technology they were operating on until that point was out of date and led to frequent outages. In July 2020, Roblox announced the creation of “Party Place”, which functions as an online hangout. The feature was created using new technology that had been used during the 2020 Bloxy Awards, and was designed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Community and culture
Users of Roblox have been noted for their efforts against racism, with numerous regular users and co-founder Baszucki having declared their support for the George Floyd protests and Black Lives Matter. However in August 2019, an investigation by NBC News revealed over 100 accounts linked to far-right and neo-Nazi groups. After being contacted about the accounts by NBC, Roblox moderators removed them.
Effects of the COVID-19 pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected Roblox in numerous ways. Due to quarantines imposed by the pandemic limiting social interaction, Roblox is being used as a way for children to communicate with each other. One of the most noted ways that this method of communication is being carried out is the phenomenon of birthday parties being held on the platform. On May 1, 2020, Roblox Corp. announced a virtual fundraiser to raise money for charities that are battling COVID-19. COVID-19 has caused a substantial increase in both the platform's revenue and the number of players on it, in line with similar effects experienced by the majority of the gaming industry.
Reception and revenue
Roblox has received generally positive reviews. Common Sense Media gave it 4 out of 5 stars, praising the website's variety of games and ability to encourage creativity in children, while finding that the decentralised nature of the platform meant game quality varied, and recommended disabling chat functions for young players to prevent possibly harmful interactions. Patricia E. Vance of the Family Online Safety Institute advised parents to monitor their child's interactions on the platform, but praised the platform for "allow[ing] kids to play, explore, socialize, create and learn in a self-directed way", and granted especial praise to Roblox Studio for its ability to encourage children to experience game development. Trusted Reviews, in its overview of the platform, also praised Roblox Studio, stating that “for anyone seeking to develop their computer science skills, or create projects that will instantly receive feedback from a huge audience, the appeal is obvious”. Craig Hurda, writing in Android Guys, gave a more moderate review, praising the number of games available and finding that the game was entertaining for children, while also finding that the platform's audio was "hit-or-miss" and declaring that it had limited appeal for adult players.
Due to its status as a games platform, Roblox has a variety of popular games. As of May 2020, the most popular games on Roblox have over 10 million monthly active players each. As of August 2020, at least 20 games have been played more than one billion times, and at least 5,000 have been played more than one million times. Some of the more notable games include:
Adopt Me! is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game where the nominal focus is players pretending to be either parents adopting a child, or children getting adopted, though the de facto focus is around adopting and caring for many different pets, who can be traded with other players. As of July 2020, the game had been played upwards of ten billion times. Adopt Me! was averaging 600,000 concurrent players as of June 2020, making it the most popular game on Roblox. Due to the high cost of pets within the game, with some rare pets selling for up to US$100, a large subculture of scammers has risen up within the game. As the primary user base of Adopt Me! is on average younger than the rest of Roblox, they are especially susceptible to falling for scams. DreamCraft, the organization behind the game, has accumulated over $16 million in revenue, mostly from microtransactions.
Jailbreak is a cops and robbers game which is among the most popular games on the site, accumulating tens of thousands of concurrent players daily, and which has been played a total of 4 billion times as of August 2020. Jailbreak was featured in Roblox's Ready Player One event, based around the release of the film. Alex Balfanz, a co-creator of Jailbreak, covered his undergraduate education at Duke University using funds from the game. Jailbreak was conceived and created as a more fleshed-out version of an earlier Roblox game called Prison Life.
MeepCity is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game with noted similarities to Club Penguin and Toontown Online. The game was averaging 100,000 concurrent players in July 2018. MeepCity's creator, Alex Bidello, stated in 2018 that he was making enough money off the game to pay two employees and support his mother and brother. Bidello is noted for his development techniques, which include playing the game on alt accounts to gauge the reactions of new players. MeepCity was the first game on Roblox to pass 1 billion total visits.
Murder Mystery 2
Murder Mystery 2 is a game where players are randomly assigned roles to play each round. One player is selected to be a murderer, who must kill everyone to win, while another player is selected to be a sheriff, and must kill the murderer to win; all remaining players are selected as innocents whose goal is to survive. The game's level design has been praised by critics.
Natural Disaster Survival
Natural Disaster Survival is a game where players are tasked with the role of surviving a litany of natural disasters thrown against them. The game has been positively compared to PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds. Along with Work at a Pizza Place, Natural Disaster Survival is one of the oldest games on Roblox that still manages to maintain any degree of popularity.
Piggy is an episodic horror game that incorporates elements from Peppa Pig and the indie horror game Granny into a zombie apocalypse setting. The games' style of episodic storytelling resulted in a significant fanbase developing prior to the game's finale on May 25, 2020. Piggy was uploaded to the site in January 2020, and had been played nearly 5 billion times as of July 2020. A sequel, titled Piggy: Book 2, released on September 12, 2020.
Welcome to Bloxburg
Welcome to Bloxburg is a game based on The Sims, noted for being a Roblox game which players have to purchase with Robux before playing. As of December 2019, the game had been played 1.4 billion times. Welcome to Bloxburg was used as a demonstrative tool at a summer camp called the Junior Builder Camp in order to teach children about homebuilding.
Work at a Pizza Place
Work at a Pizza Place is a game in which players work together to fulfill orders at a pizza parlor. The game is considered a classic among the Roblox userbase, with the creator attributing its success to the game's ability to encourage socializing. The game has received praise for its driving mechanics.
During the 2017 Roblox Developers Conference, officials said that creators on the game platform, of which there were about 1.7 million as of 2017, collectively earned at least $30 million in 2017. The iOS version of Roblox passed $1 billion of lifetime revenue in November 2019 and $1.5 billion in June 2020, making it the iOS app with the second-highest revenue. Several individual games on Roblox have accumulated revenues of over $10 million, while developers as a whole on the platform are collectively projected to earn around $250 million over the course of 2020. Roblox Corp. itself is valued at $4 billion, with venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz being noted as a substantial investor. On October 1, 2020, it was reported that Roblox Corp. was preparing to become publicly listed at some point in early 2021.
In January 2017, toy fabricator Jazwares partnered with the Roblox Corporation to produce toy minifigures based on user-generated content created by developers on the platform. The minifigures have limbs and joints similar to that of Lego minifigures, though they are about twice the size. The minifigures have limbs and accessories that are interchangeable. The sets included a code that was used to redeem virtual items, as well are blind boxes that contained random minifigures. In 2019, Roblox Corp. released a new line of toys, branded the "Roblox Desktop" series.
Awards and recognition
Roblox has received the following accolades:
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