Roblox seems to be a logical update to Minecraft – a game in which the characters look intentionally undeveloped, and the user decides on the story and gets to create his or her world. But actually, Roblox is older than Minecraft. Roblox was created by David Baszucki in 2005. Ten years later, after Minecraft sold to Microsoft for 2.5 billion dollars, Roblox eclipsed Minecraft to become the reigning game for kids online. Roblox boasts 56 million monthly active players as opposed to Minecraft’s paltry 55 million monthly players.
Roblox’s founder, chief executive officer, and director is David Baszucki. Baszucki was a General Motors scholar in electrical engineering at Stanford University before going on to be a product manager and electrical designer. He then started his own company, Knowledge Revolution, in 1989. MSC Software eventually acquired the company, and according to an interview with Forbes, the company sold for 20 million. He then went on to serve as vice president and general manager of the Working Knowledge Division at MSC Software before starting Roblox with another early employee of Knowledge Revolution.
In May, Roblox announced it raised 92 million in venture capital funding. Baszucki says the money will go to “High-quality hiring, product development, strengthening the balance sheet, and bringing in a couple of great partners.” Baszucki thinks that “Companies like ours are going to be as large as media companies and social networking companies that are valued in the tens of billions of dollars. I don’t know how long it will take, but we know the opportunity is huge.” But how did Roblox grow to be bigger than even Minecraft?
When Roblox first started, it was just a desktop game, like Minecraft. In 2011, the company launched an iOS version. This subsequently led to Android, Windows, Steam, Mac, Chrome, and even Oculus VR versions. One key to Roblox popularity may be its ubiquity, but it’s also because, for the platform, mobile is the standard. According to Engadget, Baszucki said “You can safely design a user experience for mobile and have it translate to the desktop, but you can’t have it go the other way. Mobile is the new design standard for Roblox, and long-term, the devs want to make everything work on all platforms.” This may be one reason behind the platform’s popularity. It’s one of few sophisticated games that works great on mobile in a world with over two billion smartphones.
Another reason behind Roblox’s immense popularity may be because it’s not just one game, essentially, its millions. Similar to how the app store isn’t only one app, but a platform for a wide variety of apps, Roblox is a platform for a wide range of worlds that allow it’s players to experience everything from working in a pizza restaurant to breaking out of jail. If that’s not enough, what’s enticing and growing the Roblox player base is that it allows, even really encourages its users to create their worlds. There are 1.6 million developers on Roblox who have made their own worlds, games, stories, gear, clothes that can be used for everything from a Macintosh to a Galaxy S8.
That’s the real reason behind Roblox’s huge player base. Other games become boring. The storyline becomes tired, the levels get too easy, but with Roblox, the possibilities never an end. There’s no end to the imaginative worlds that can be seen, created or played. The game is continually evolving; players are always creating something new.
The games everchanging worlds occur perhaps, and most importantly because Roblox encourages it. Roblox plans to pay out over 30 million to its developer’s this year. One exceptionally lucky developer is getting three million. Two others are getting two million apiece. The Developer Exchange, where players can exchange the Robux they’ve earned from the gear, clothes or games is really what sets Roblox way apart from any known competition. The company pays out $350 for every 100 thousand Robux. This has allowed some developers, like those behind the most popular game on the platform, Jailbreak, to pay for their entire college education. Which seems right considering the duo, Alex Balfanz, and Andrew Bereza had to write 16 thousand lines of code to make their best-selling game which has had 75 thousand concurrent players, a Roblox record.
The two significant benefits of this strategy are that players, perhaps the people that would best know how to create a good game, are encouraged to develop one. Also, the allure of real cash compensation draws an ever-expanding array and catalog of worlds and game, something seen nowhere else. While it seems like Minecraft may be cooling down, Roblox appears to be heating up. While it is occupying a space where a game can be popular one day and not the next, Roblox seems uniquely poised to stay something that players come back to for a long time.