Roblox VR Frontier?
Updated: Oct 5
As an adult who's spent countless hours immersed in the worlds of Minecraft, Runescape, and other iconic games, it's easy to feel a bit out of the loop when it comes to the gaming sensation: Roblox. If you're like me, you've probably heard of Roblox, maybe seen some cheesy kid videos, or thought it was legos but have yet to really understand what all the fuss was about. With the recent hype around Roblox's foray into VR, it's time we took a closer look at what turns out to be a gaming behemoth.
What on Earth is Roblox?
Roblox isn't just a game; it's a universe of games, all created by its users. Think of it as YouTube, but people create and share games instead of videos. These games span a wide range of genres, from obstacle courses and murder mysteries to role-playing games and simulations, with over 20 million games created! The platform uses a programming language called Lua, which is relatively easy to learn, making it accessible to young aspiring developers and old hands alike, along with its own game development program, like unreal engine or unity just more simplified in many ways. (https://create.roblox.com/)
Roblox and Virtual Reality
With the recent announcement of Roblox becoming available for Meta Quest headsets, the platform is set to make a significant splash in the VR space. However, creating VR content for Roblox is more complex than creating non-VR content. Developers must learn how to script for VR in Roblox and navigate the platform's limitations. But the potential rewards are significant, given Roblox's massive user base of around 66.1 million daily active users as of 2023 (https://backlinko.com/roblox-users) and built-in monetization system which works well compared to other hosted creator platforms like VRchat or Neos VR. You wouldn't be mistaken in feeling that Roblox may be behind in this VR development but it has had some limited development around PCVR for a few years at least since 2020 and this latest standalone integration with Quest is a big leap for bolth platforms.
The Business of Roblox
Roblox operates on a freemium model. The platform itself is free to use, but it features a virtual currency called Robux, which players can buy with real money and use to purchase in-game items or games. While developers can't sell games directly, they can monetize their games through the sale of in-game items and passes.his system has proven to be quite profitable, with some top developers earning over $2 million a year (https://www.businessofapps.com/data/roblox-statistics/). However, it's worth noting that Roblox takes a 30% commission on all transactions, but then again, so does Meta platforms so this may be a way to reach many platforms, PC, Mobile, and VR, by using Roblox as a base.
Roblox vs. The Gaming Universe
When compared to other platforms, Roblox holds its own. Its user base is larger than VRChat, comparable to Microsoft's Minecraft, and closer to Fortnight (https://www.pocketgamer.com/roblox/roblox-vs-fortnite/). In terms of development, while platforms like Unity and Unreal offer more advanced graphics capabilities, Roblox's simplicity and built-in audience make it an appealing option for developers. The only thing holding it back is its reputation as a children's game, limiting its appeal to older gamers. However, as I looked, I saw lots of growth in the adult markets for its ease of access, growing development tools and a player base that is aging up its base is sticking around longer than the memes would have you suggest.
As an adult diving into the world of Roblox it's a bit like having a cocktail at a kid's birthday party, it's an intriguing scene until the parents start giving you strange looks. The platform's venture into VR, robust user-generated content, and unique monetization system present intriguing opportunities. However, it's essential to understand the platform's limitations and its predominantly young audience. Whether you're a game developer looking to explore a new platform or a curious observer like us, Roblox's VR journey is something to keep an eye on.