Roblox is an online game platform and game creation system that allows users to program games and play games created by other users.[5] 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.[6][7] Roblox is free-to-play, with in-game purchases available through a virtual currency called "Robux". As of July 2020, Roblox had over 150 million monthly active users, with it being played by over half of all children aged under 16 in the United States.[8][9] Roblox has received generally positive reviews from critics.

Roblox
Roblox Logo Black.svg
Developer(s)Roblox Corporation
Publisher(s)Roblox Corporation
Director(s)David Baszucki, Erik Cassel[1]
Platform(s)Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Xbox One
ReleasePC
September 1, 2006[2][3]
iOS
December 11, 2012
Android
July 16, 2014[4]
Genre(s)Game creation system, massively multiplayer online
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Overview

Roblox Studio

 
Screenshot of the Roblox Studio interface as of July 21, 2020

Roblox 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.[10] 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.[11][12] Robux acquired through the sale of user-generated content can be exchanged into real-world currency through the website's Developer Exchange system.[13] The majority of games produced on the platform are developed by children.[14]

Items and currency

 
A default male Roblox avatar

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.[15] Only Roblox administrators can sell accessories, body parts, gear, and packages under the official Roblox user account;[16] virtual hats and accessories can also be published by a select few users with past experience working with the Roblox Corporation.[17][18] Items with a limited edition status can only be traded between or sold by users with premium membership status.[19]

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.[11][20]

Events

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.[11] Roblox operates annual Easter egg hunts,[21] and occasionally engages in events to promote films, such as ones held for Wonder Woman 1984 and Aquaman.[22][23] Roblox also hosts an annual event called the “Bloxy Awards”, an awards ceremony which also functions as a fundraiser.[24]

Developers Conference

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.[25] Roblox has hosted similar events in London and Amsterdam.[26][27]

Development

 
The first Roblox logo, designed in 2004

The beta version of Roblox was created by co-founders David Baszucki and Erik Cassel in 2004, originally under the name DynaBlocks.[28] Baszucki started testing the first demos that year.[29] In 2005, the company changed its name to Roblox.[29] Roblox launched on September 1, 2006.[2]

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.[30] In August, Roblox applied server improvements and released a premium membership service named "Builders Club".[31] This paid membership feature was rebranded as Roblox Premium in September 2019.[32]

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.[33][34] On December 11, 2012, an iOS version of Roblox was released,[35] and on July 16, 2014, released an Android version.[4] On October 1, 2013, Roblox released its Developer Exchange program, allowing developers to exchange virtual Robux earned from their games into real-world currencies.[36]

 
The Roblox logo from 2015 to 2017. Note the stylised diacritic above the O.[37]

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.[38] On November 20, Roblox was launched on Xbox One, with an initial selection of 15 games chosen by Roblox staff.[39] New Roblox games for the Xbox One have to go through an approval process, and are subject to the Entertainment Software Ratings Board standards.[40]

In April 2016, Roblox launched Roblox VR for Oculus Rift. At the time of release, more than ten million games were available in 3D.[41] 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.[42] 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.[43] 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.[44]

Community and culture

Players

The demographic that makes up a plurality of the Roblox userbase consists of children aged 7-12, though a substantial amount of players are older.[14]

Anti-racism efforts

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.[45][46]

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.[47] 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.[48][49] On May 1, 2020, Roblox Corp. announced a virtual fundraiser to raise money for charities that are battling COVID-19.[50] 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.[51][52]

Reception and revenue

Overall reception

Roblox 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.[53] 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.[54] 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”.[55]

Popular games

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. 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.[56] Some of the more notable games include:

Adopt Me!

Adopt Me! is a role-playing video 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.[57] As of July 2020, the game had been played upwards of ten billion times.[8] The highest number of concurrent players Adopt Me! has achieved is 1.6 million.[58] 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.[59][60] Adopt Me! was averaging 600,000 concurrent players as of June 2020, making it the most popular game on Roblox.[57] The organization behind the game has accumulated over $16 million dollars in revenue, mostly from microtransactions.[61][58]

Jailbreak

Jailbreak is 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.[6][62] Jailbreak was featured in Roblox's Ready Player One event, based around the release of the film.[63] A developer of Jailbreak covered his undergraduate education at Duke University using funds from his creation.[64] Jailbreak was conceived and created as a more fleshed-out version of an earlier game called Prison Life.[65]

MeepCity

MeepCity is a role-playing game with noted similarities to Club Penguin and Toontown Online. The game was averaging 100,000 concurrent players in July 2018.[66][67] 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.[67] Bidello is noted for his development techniques, which include playing the game on alt accounts to gauge the reactions of new players.[68] MeepCity was the first game on Roblox to pass 1 billion total visits.[68]

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 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.[68] The game's level design has been praised by critics.[10]

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.[69] The game has been positively compared to PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds.[10] 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.[70]

Piggy

Piggy is an episodic survival horror game that incorporates elements from Peppa Pig and the niche horror game Granny into a zombie apocalypse setting.[71] The games' style of episodic storytelling resulted in a significant fanbase developing prior to the game's finale on May 25, 2020.[72] Piggy was uploaded to the site in January of 2020, and has been played nearly 5 billion times as of July 2020.[8]

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.[73] As of December 2019, the game had been played 1.4 billion times.[68] Bloxburg was used as a demonstrative tool at a summer camp called the Junior Builder Camp in order to teach children about homebuilding.[74]

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.[10] The game is considered a classic among the Roblox userbase, with the creator attributing its success to the game's ability to encourage socializing.[68] The game has received praise for its driving mechanics.[10]

Revenue

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,[75] collectively earned at least $30 million in 2017.[76] 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.[77] Several individual games on Roblox have accumulated revenues of over $10 million dollars, [61] while developers as a whole on the platform are collectively projected to earn around $250 million dollars over the course of 2020.[78] Roblox Corp. itself is valued at $4 billion dollars, with venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz being noted as a substantial investor.[79][80]

Toy line

In January 2017, toy fabricator Jazwares teamed up with the Roblox Corporation to produce toy minifigures based on user-generated content created by large developers on the platform.[81] The minifigures have limbs and joints similar to that of Lego minifigures, though they are about twice the size.[82] The minifigures have limbs and accessories that are interchangeable. All of the sets include a code that can be used to redeem virtual items. There are blind boxes that contain random minifigures and have a chance to contain a mystery figure.[83]

Awards and recognition

Roblox has received the following accolades:

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External links