If Minecraft and Lego had a baby, the results would be Roblox, an incredibly popular user-generated sandbox, where kids 8 to 18 not only play, they have the ability to build custom games for the rest of the Roblox community to enjoy.
In order to continue to push innovation within these user-created games, Roblox has announced a Developer Exchange program (DevEx), enabling kids who develop games inside the Roblox universe to cash-in their virtual currency for real-world dollars.
“Roblox isn’t just a place to play games, but to build them,” says Brad Justus, Vice President of Marketing and Brand Experience for Roblox. “What we’re seeing is there are a lot of very talented developers here, and in a way, we’re helping to create the next generation of game developers right now.
“Some of the attention in gaming seems to have shifted away from the big behemoths like EA to the smaller independent studios and beyond that to these individuals or small groups of individuals who are already building cool stuff. What we have with Roblox is not just a distribution platform a la Steam or YouTube, but we also have the engine, a la Unity.”
In the past, popular Roblox games earned their creators money in the virtual economy, but now the company is rewarding top designers with cash in hopes of getting the best and brightest to continue making games for their platform.
“This is the first step in a program where we’re looking to not only incentivize the creation of higher-quality games on Roblox, but to get people to see Roblox as not just a place to play, but as something more than just a rewarding hobby,” says Justus. “We would like to see people ultimately earning a salary from what they’re doing on Roblox.”
The first few months Roblox implemented the DevEx system, they put constraints on how much money game developers could earn, but according to Justus, the company’s wallet is about to open further to help aid the program.
“You need to be part of our developer program to be able to cash out,” says Justus. “Right now, we have hundreds of people participating, and we’ve paid out more than $60K to date. We’ve been capping it so that you couldn’t cash out more than $500 a month, but starting in February, we’re raising the cap to $2K a month.
“People have been earning a lot of virtual cash in their games, and we think that the cap is maybe holding them back, so we’re lifting the cap to $2K, and we’re considering raising it even beyond that in order to get this pull effect where people will build more stuff in their games in order to earn more money.”
Roblox games earning big money include everything from virtual amusement parks to first-person shooters and even a zombie title where you try to survive against an army of the undead.
Adds Justus: “Some of the games might feel familiar, but we also have some very unique games that you’ll see only on Roblox, and the developer exchange is a way for people who have created these hit games to be rewarded for what they’ve created.
“Later this year, we’re going to go even farther with this, and distribute these games on other platforms as standalone apps. So we’re moving from being a platform where people find and play games, and we’ll continue to be that, but we’re also going to become a publisher as well.”