Like Minecraft or Fortnite, Roblox has garnered a massive player base, particularly with a younger audience in mind. But what exactly is it? Whether you’re a parent wondering if the game is safe for your child, an adult thinking about jumping into it yourself, or even a developer with the goal of making money, this guide will run through the basics to get you started.
It can seem daunting at first, because unlike a traditional game you’d buy for a mobile device or console, Roblox is a platform, with a heavy emphasis on creating and sharing with other players online.
Developed by the Roblox Corporation, Roblox officially debuted in 2006, but its beta released two years prior in 2004. It’s a creation platform that allows its users to make games using Roblox Studio. The main draw of Roblox is that it offers thousands of free user-created games for its users to play. To date, there are over 100 million monthly active users, making it one of the most popular game development suites ever. A quick overview of the official website explains that 28 billion hours have been played since 2008 with 1.2 billion total engagement hours each month and a peak of 2.7 million concurrent users. Suffice to say, it’s extremely popular.
Every world you visit is created by other players and there are millions of them to explore. Some players focus solely on the creative aspects, while others tend to gravitate more toward playing. Content ranges from wildly deep and nuanced to much simpler in design — and everything in between. With an intuitive search function in place, finding these games or creations is easy, especially for younger players.
Many of the creations are inspired by existing games or IP. For example, you’ll find some that resemble the Call of Duty, Pokémon, and Battlefield franchises. But there are also original games that become wildly popular like Work at a Pizza Place (created by user Dued1). You can play pretty much anything you can imagine, from racing games, shooters, RPGs, and even versions of MMOs. With so many options to choose from, it’s easy to see why Roblox has captivated millions of players. And these experiences aren’t just limited to interactive pieces, but also include animations and films.
Creators use the programming language Lua to impact events in each game. Lua can be used to turn a beautifully developed static scene into an actual game, with a varied amount of interactivity. A detailed world in Roblox can go from simply aesthetically pleasing to something more complicated and fun.
Signing up for a Roblox account is free and you can do so by visiting the official website. You can find Roblox on many platforms including Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and Xbox One. There is currently no word on whether it will be headed to other platforms like PS4 and Nintendo Switch. Up until recently, some players were able to play certain creations on PS4 by using the system’s browser, though this is no longer the case.
Roblox is intended for users of all ages, but younger players are encouraged to have supervision when interacting with others or when selecting which user-generated games to play. With a high emphasis on social interactivity, safety should be a priority with younger audiences. Some have reported instances of bullying and other circumstances parents might find inappropriate, but there are systems in place to limit these issues from occurring
The Roblox admins do verify games for content, ensuring there is no profanity or sexual imagery, but you can still find experiences that depict violence and other crude themes. As such, it’s a good rule of thumb to review on a case by case basis, since not all creations are the same.
There are also parental controls you can use to limit what your child can play, along with ways to monitor the account remotely. From here, you can control online interactions with other players, the ability to access in-game purchases, and monitor the content they participate in. As with most social platforms, you can report players who are causing harm in any way. With millions of creations — all with varying degrees of appropriate content, parents will have to evaluate if Roblox is right for their children by monitoring the games they play. As explained via a Roblox blog, parents should “visit the apps and games they use most frequently and ask them to show you how they work.”
Roblox supports in-game currency called Robux, which can be used to purchase clothing and accessories for your avatar, as well as access to certain games. Items range in rarity, with some being valued at over $500 in real money. With a supply and demand system in place, items tend to fluctuate in value. You can link your credit card to your account to make purchases, or you can buy prepaid scratch-off cards from retailers with up to $50 in value.
Users can also subscribe to Roblox Premium (which replaced Builders Club in 2019), a membership that nets you a monthly allowance and special perks like a 10% bonus when buying Robux and access to the game’s economy, allowing you to buy, sell, trade, and earn real money. There are three tiers of Roblox Premium:
- 450 Robux per month – $5
- 1,000 Robux per month – $10
- 2,200 Robux per month – $20
The higher the tier, the more of a monthly allowance you get.
Monetization works the other way around, as well. Players are able to extract real money from their creations with a somewhat sophisticated in-game economy system. You can implement monetization however you see fit. Some free-to-play Roblox creations feature loot crates that enhance gameplay, while others go beyond that and charge for entire experiences. Much of Roblox’s roster of content is developed with monetization in mind, with several developers becoming millionaires from their creations.
Roblox may be marketed for a younger audience, but it can quickly become complicated depending on what you’d like to do. Players can use it as an endless stream of user-generated content or even turn it into a job. That’s the beauty of it — with so many options and avenues to take, it makes sense that Roblox has captured such a large audience.
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