The first thing to clarify about Roblox is that it is not a standalone game. It is not Minecraft, it is not Fortnite, but if you want you can recreate both inside. Roblox, born in 2006 and available for PC, console and mobile is an online platform in which to create video games, all video games. It is not the first platform that allows you to do this but compared to the others there are some details that have made it particularly interesting and, above all, an economic power worthy of being listed on the stock exchange, as happened in mid-March.
Downloading the game and creating an account gives you access to the list of games, but also to all the tools you need to create what you want. Anyone can create video games in Roblox, to do so you just have to learn a very simple programming language, called “Lua”, which many children learn quickly, thanks to many guides and support forums where you can find a solution for every problem. If desired, you can also create various graphic assets, skins, clothes and props that can be bought and used by other players. A market that reminds a little of what happened, and in part still happens, in the now forgotten Second Life. In some cases they are the companies themselves to create official virtual objects.
The idea of Roblox is to relieve developers young and old from any problems related to network infrastructure, data storage and the creation of assets to let them create freely and, above all, make money. In addition to selling the items needed to create new video games, developers can also make money from the games they create. Even if they are free, many titles contain microtransactions inside them, exactly as happens outside Roblox. For example, some titles offer the first levels for free as a demo and others behind a paywall, others ask for credits to unlock additional skins or characters, and so on. A portion of the money from each transaction goes to the developers of the platform and a portion to the creators of the games.
Once a certain threshold has been reached, a program called “Developer Exchange” can be used to convert the Robuxes into real money. The economy of the game is entirely managed by the users, who also hold the right to everything they create and if they want they can also register any trademarks used in the game and, of course, they cannot use the trademarks of other companies or copyrighted music, too. if it is often difficult to monitor such a large virtual library.
But what is played in Roblox? Lua is a simple but versatile language and allows you to develop games for PC, console or mobile, create three-dimensional objects, establish more or less complex routines and behaviors, this means that each genre is widely reproducible and represented. Racing games, shooters, management, platformers, fighting games, graphic adventures, virtual animal farms, soccer games, multiplayer titles, single player.
Of course, with millions of games available many are little more than junk, but every now and then something interesting pops up, especially for a young audience. But the power of Roblox also lies here: in the ability to offer a game that is not very structured and in which the rules are not fixed, recreating in some ways the feeling of playing among children, in which adventures, stories and characters are born and disappear in the turn of a few minutes, to move on to the next adventure. In the world of so-called “sandbox” games, Roblox is one of the few great virtual beaches in which to build digital sand castles.
A Roblox game, if it manages to outperform the competition, can hit numbers that would appeal to any developer. For Adopt Me! A kind of simulator in which to buy and care for animals with about one and a half million users at the same time. A figure that would make the fortune of any online video game.
Joining Roblox is like entering a parallel world, virtually unknown to adults, where boys and girls run an economic system and take their first steps into the world of video game development with once unthinkable ease. It’s not too strange to think that this incredible coding gym is forging the talents of the future.
A potential of minds, ideas and money that obviously is tempting and when Roblox went public the capitalization earned the company about 45 billion dollars. To understand the orders of magnitude, Epic Games, the developer behind Fortnite, which also owns the Unreal Engine, one of the most popular graphics engines and can count on the Epic Game Launcher online store, has been valued at around 17 billion dollars. Until recently Roblox was a videogame subculture totally ignored by the general public and the press, a free zone that over time has created its games, its developers and its events.
Of course, such a large platform also brings some concerns. An account can theoretically be created only by an adult who then gives consent to a minor, managing everything that account can do. However, even though it is possible for a parent to control messages, transactions, recordings, downloaded games and totally block all contacts, adults often lack the necessary skills and all basic security settings are unlocked or bypassed with a little cunning. of users, which may already contain such information, moreover by default the various security systems are not active. All this, added to the anonymity and large numbers can lead both to the creation of unsuitable content and to bullying and various threats. The advice is therefore always the same: check without oppressing what the little ones do, as if they were playing in a playground open to all.
In recent months, thanks also to its entry into the stock market, Roblox has gained further attention and public and its further growth is almost a foregone conclusion. Now we need to understand if this large niche will be colonized by larger users, if it will collapse on itself, perhaps due to its inability to remain suitable and safe for the public that has made its fortune or if it will continue its exponential growth.