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. Roblox is free-to-play, with in-game purchases available through a virtual currency called "Robux". As of July 2020, Roblox has over 150 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 StudioRoblox is a game creation platform which allows players to create their own games using its proprietary engine, Roblox Studio. 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". Game developers and content creators can earn the site's virtual currency, known as "Robux", through creating and selling virtual content on Roblox. A percentage of the revenue from purchases is split between the developer and Roblox Corporation. Robux acquired through the sale of user-generated content can be exchanged into real-world currency through the website's Developer Exchange system. The majority of games produced on the platform are developed by children.
Items and currencyRoblox 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. 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.
EventsRoblox 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.
Developers ConferenceRoblox 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 has hosted similar events in London and Amsterdam.
DevelopmentThe 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. Roblox launched on September 1, 2006.
In March 2007, Roblox became compliant with COPPA, with the addition of safe chat, a change that limited users under the age of thirteen to communicating by 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 innovative 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, released an Android version. On October 1, 2013, Roblox released its Developer Exchange program, allowing developers to exchange virtual 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 on a blacklist 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. 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
PlayersThe demographic that makes up a plurality of the Roblox userbase consists of children aged 7-12, though a substantial amount of players are older.
Anti-racism effortsUsers 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.
Effects of the COVID-19 pandemicThe 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
Overall receptionRoblox has received generally positive reviews. Common Sense Media gave it 4 out of 5 starts, 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 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”.
Popular gamesDue 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. At least 16 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!, a role-playing video game wherein players pretend to be either parents adopting a child, or children getting adopted. As of July 2020, the game had been played upwards of ten billion times. The game received attention on April Fools Day, 2020, when the inclusion of a temporary pet rock in the game caused it to have 680,000 concurrent players. The highest number of concurrent players Adopt Me! has achieved is 1.6 million. Following the inclusion of tradeable pets in the game, which can sell for up to US$100, a large subculture of scammers rose 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. Adopt Me! was averaging 600,000 concurrent players as of June 2020, making it the most popular game on Roblox. The organization behind the game employs roughly 30 people, and has accumulated over $16 million dollars in revenue, mostly from microtransactions.
Jailbreak, a cops and robbers game which is among the most popular on the site, accumulating tens of thousands of concurrent players daily at its height. Jailbreak was featured in Robloxs Ready Player One event, based around the release of the film. A developer of Jailbreak covered his undergraduate education at Duke University using funds from his creation. Jailbreak was conceived and created as a more fleshed-out version of an earlier game called Prison Life.
MeepCity, a role-playing game with noted similarities to Club Penguin and Toontown Online. The game was averaging 100,000 concurrent players in July 2018. MeepCitys 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, a game where players are randomly assigned roles to play each round. One player is selected to be a murderer, who must kill everyone in order to win, while another player is selected to be a sheriff, and must kill the murderer in order 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, 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 still to maintain any degree of popularity.
Piggy, an episodic survival horror game that incorporates elements from Peppa Pig and the niche 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 of 2020, and has been played over 5 billion times as of July 2020.
Welcome to Bloxburg, 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. 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, 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.