He has always remained silent, away from the big lights. Roblox is one of those names that has grown in the shadow of titles more than established among the general public such as League of Legends , Minecraft , GTA and Fortnite . Since 2006, the year in which David Baszucki and Erik Cassel launched the video game, it has gradually gained followers . It has forged a very young community – 54% of users are less than 13 years old – fully interactive, creative and increasingly focused on educational experiences. Small peculiarities that, with the boom harvested during the pandemic, which has triggered its consumption by 85% in the last year to register 31 million daily active users, have led it to storm Wall Street .
On March 10, Roblox began to trade under the stock symbol RBLX. Each share cost 30 dollars and closed almost at 70 and now exceeds 71 Someone may think that it was a flower of a day due to the peculiarity of watching a video game on the New York parquet; but it has remained stable between 65 and 70 dollars. It has increased in value from $ 30 billion to $ 45 billion. “ Roblox is defined as a new category of virtual reality; They call it human co-experience. For the company it is a form of social interaction that combines games, entertainment, social networks and toys. Unlike Second Life , and like Minecraft , they have looked for star applications, in this case games. What for MySpace was music and musicians ”, says Guillermo de Haro, professor of the systems area at IE Business School.
The essence of Roblox , which is free, part of its character as an open world gaming platform, with virtually unlimited possibilities . It allows creators to develop their own virtual world and design their own titles, similar to a kind of metagame. There are currently more than 40 million games within Roblox , among which the adoption of digital pets stands out – Adopt me! , with 20,000 million games— , Tower of Hell and MeepCity. “We are facing an interesting phenomenon, especially since almost all the content is created by the users themselves. It's another example of how a “free” game generates a lot of revenue through internal purchases, ”says Jamie Woodcock, professor at The Open University.
The internal currency, called Robux, has completely energized the video game. The same is used to acquire cosmetic elements of avatars that to make micropayments between users or buy any of the multiverses built within Roblox . This is precisely one of the most interesting aspects: the company pays developers if their creations are successful because their currency can be converted into conventional money . Last year alone, it paid $ 328.7 million. According to figures compiled by Scott Galloway, a professor at New York University's Stern School of Business, about a thousand developers have earned above $ 10,000 in the last 12 months and 250 have exceeded $ 100,000.
Yes Well Roblox dedicates about a third of its income to its creators, what it gets in return is a vast library of content, as well as a powerful marketing engine because its community shares experiences organically. “Investment in sales and advertising represents less than 10% of revenues. If we compare it with digital giants, Facebook spends 14% and Twitter, 26%. Of the 830 full-time employees of the Roblox development company, 79% are engineers, which makes it a more purely technological company than Apple, Netflix or Google, ”argues Galloway.
Dual growth path
The health emergency has established a business model based on a fairly simple double track: players and creators. "The pandemic has allowed its expansion. Half of British students under the age of 10 have a Roblox account, ”Woodcock says. If developers make money from their work while creating and managing an engaged community that supports them, the platform will grow . The more programmers create experiences or new games, the easier it will be for newcomers to take advantage of these tools. “At the same time, these seasoned creators will monetize their experience by selling their tools and models to third parties. This virtuous circle should facilitate the growth, the sustainability of the video game ”, suggests De Haro.
The circumstances imposed by the coronavirus, at least as Woodcock puts it, may have fueled a somewhat unreal phenomenon. The data shows that Roblox's behavior is trending upward. All his indications have not stopped growing; and is even listed on Wall Street. "But there are some questions about whether such a boom will continue once the pandemic ends, particularly as the children have normality in schools and need less virtual experiences," he adds.
Still immersed in the crest of the wave, the founders of the video game do not think of modifying anything of the success that has brought them so many benefits. They think about maintaining the principles that govern their platform: respecting the community, feeling of belonging, self-organization, long-term vision and constantly creating . Aside from internal ethics, subscription models, which range from $ 5 to $ 20 per month and with which to access exclusive content, help generate even more income. A system that the industry as a whole uses. Nothing new, but highly profitable in economic terms.
Gaming is experiencing a sweet moment. Obviously Roblox is within a privileged group. Privileged enough to dare with the stock market casino. After 15 years it has managed to rub shoulders with the great players in its sector . With an eye to the future, that the venture capital firms Andreessen Horowitz and First Round Capital, known for investing in Facebook and Uber respectively, are behind the developer suggests that their game is going for a long time. "Adapting the success of Fornite or Clash Royale , combined with the creative potential of Minecraft and the platform model of digital app stores to a niche, such as children under 13, explains its success," concludes De Haro .
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