Roblox is a videogame giant, dominating the gaming world for kids in recent years and generating $454 million revenue in the last quarter alone. According to a new report, Roblox's success can be attributed to the exploiting of young game developers (many of whom are children) who create content for the game.
Roblox is a platform that allows gamers to create and share an unfathomable number of experiences. These include running a restaurant, climbing a huge stairway, or escape from a prison cell. Roblox hosts tens of millions more games than Steam. These games are played by 43 million people every day, mostly children. These are some of the most loved experiences, which have earned their creators millions of dollars annually.
A new report claims that this model, which is behind Roblox's huge success, may be exploiting young game developers. People Make Games, an independent YouTube channel that covers games journalism, published How Roblox is Exploiting Young Game Developers on Thursday. It examines the promises of Roblox and argues that it actually makes it difficult for young developers to succeed.
Roblox has become a publicly traded company and is now worth more that Electronic Arts, Quintin Smith, Producer of People Make Games, tells WIRED. In a direct listing, the company was valued at $45 million earlier this year. We were concerned that the majority of games on the platform were made by minors, with a revenue split that is only one-third of industry standards. Roblox offers developers only 25 percent and pays out based on engagement.
People Make Games' analysis of Robloxs economics reveals the disconnect between Robloxs promise to kids as a way to develop games and reality. Roblox makes money from people trying.
There are few things more appealing than working in the bank and doing what you love. With the rising value of the gaming industry, young gamers have the opportunity to work for a game developer studio, stream on Twitch and compete professionally in esports. The games industry has faced a number of poor labor practices over the past decade. These include 12-hour workdays at top studios and wildly unbalanced contracts with managers. Low wages and poor workplace conditions are not uncommon. Gaming addicts are easy targets for exploitation because of the all-consuming passion they feel for their media.
Roblox's marketing copy focuses on the possibility of financial success when developing games. Roblox Studio's developer engine advertises its three tenants to young developers: Make Anything; Reach Millions of Players; and Earn Serious Money. Roblox also notes that the platform has helped top developers make more than $2 million per year. Roblox's developer testimonials highlight how the platform helped them overcome the financial challenges of college students and even hint at the possibility of a career in games. Roblox's YouTube channel promotes mini documentaries that highlight the most successful developers. Forbes and BBC both publish stories on Roblox developers who have paid off their parents' mortgages or their college tuition.