Roblox, a game creation platform and massively multiplayer online game, has a fanbase dedication rivaling that of Minecraft. According to Gamesindustry.biz, Roblox attracts more than 48 million active players every month as of April 2017, surpassing 1 million concurrent users at peak times. Minecraft reached 55 million monthly active players in February of 2017. It’s expanded from the PC to mobile devices, Xbox One, and even Virtual Reality, according to Forbes.
This is astronomically high from its humble origins in 2006 and even further back than that. Here’s everything you need to know.
1. Roblox Was Preceded By a 2D Physics Simulator
David “Builderman” Baszucki, 53, CEO and co-founder of Roblox Corporation, founded educational software company Knowledge Revolution in 1989. That year, he created one of the first general purpose physics simulators called Interactive Physics, he wrote on Roblox’s official blog. General purpose physics simulators are where all of the objects in a simulation are simulated, and were originally used in mechanical engineering. Knowledge Revolution later created a 3D simulator called Working Model, which could simulate complex mechanical devices like motorcycles or copy machines. Both programs won many awards. Roblox would go on to have its own general purpose physics simulator scaled to thousands of parts.
After Knowledge Revolution was acquired by MSC Software for $20 million, Baszucki along with his colleague at Knowledge Revolution, Erik Cassel, both got senior positions at the company. They both left after a few years and wrote the first version of Roblox over the course of two years in an office in Menlo Park, California, he wrote in a blog post. They were initially self-funded but they later raised $11 million from investors, Baszucki told Forbes.
Baszucki told Forbes that that he made the game not only because of the rise of 3D rendering and his enjoyment of construction toys but because of the positive reception from kids playing on his simulators.
Seeing how kids lit up when they were creating things using our physics software made me think of what would be the ultimate platform for our imagination… It became clear to me that there was an opportunity to create an immersive, 3-D, multi-player platform in the cloud where people could imagine, create and share their experiences together.
According to the Roblox Wiki, Roblox launched its beta iteration as DynaBlocks in 2004. It was renamed Roblox in 2005 and officially released in 2006. Since then, it’s added features such as avatar customization, a search engine, private messages, and more.
In an interview with Cassel on the official Roblox blog, he talked about the first time Roblox went from a single-player game to a multiplayer one. Their first multiplayer game had about 20 children building in the game. They realized they could put blocks on each others’ shoulders – something the creators didn’t even know about – and started carrying each other on contraptions strapped to each others’ backs.
2. Roblox is a MMO Where You Create Your Own Games & Even Get Paid By Them
Roblox is a massively multiplayer game where people create their own worlds to play in together. Games cover a wide variety of genres ranging from competitive shooters, obstacle courses, and social hangouts. Games can be created by dragging and dropping things in the Roblox Studio or by writing in Lua, Roblox’s coding language, for more advanced functions. There are several tutorials on the game’s YouTube channel.
Baszucki told Forbes that one of his favorite games is Natural Disaster Survival by User Stickmasterluke, where players are transported on an island in the middle of the ocean and try to survive meteor showers, lightning storms, and more. At the time of writing, it has over 339 million visits since its creation in 2008.
The game is free to play, but you can spend real money for Robux, the game’s currency, which you can use to buy cosmetic items and perks in certain games. For example, in Superhero Tycoon by firebreathingdragon6 and FadedParagon, you can spend money to double your cash earned in the game.
Robux can be purchased in packages ranging from 400 Robux for $4.95 to 22,500 Robux for $199.95. There are also the option to upgrade to a Builders Club account with a monthly subscription starting at $5.95 a month and grants users ad removal, the ability to sell gear, bonus gear, access the trade system, exclusive access to games and gear, and more.
When a purchase is made in a game, the game’s creator earns 18 percent of the money. Baszucki told Forbes that some of their developers get more than $50,000 or more a month, and some developers are even forming their own studios to make games on Roblox. He said that one developer, Gus Dubetz, payed for his tuition at Dakota State and bought a house for $120,000 thanks to the money from his games. There are 500,000 people making things on Roblox every month.
Roblox also has advertising deals with big companies like Disney, giving players free items like the McQueen Helmet to promote Cars 3. Baszucki told Forbes that some of the advertising deals are six figures and beyond, and their developers get some of the money. About a quarter of their revenue comes from advertising.
3. Roblox Had Its Own Conventions
Roblox has had a number of special events both virtual and in real life.
Roblox held its first convention, ROBLOX Rally 2011, at the Exploratorium in San Francisco, California on August 1, 2011. Fans could meet up to share ideas, ask questions to the Roblox staff, learn about creating games, win prizes, and learn about future updates to the game. Roblox also held the ROBLOX Game Conference 2012 at the Santa Clara Convention Center on July 14, 2012 and BLOXcon 2013 at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, Illinois; the Royal Air Force Museum in London, England; and the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City. A virtual convention known as Virtual Bloxcon 2013 was held for all players who could not attend the previous conventions.
Since then, Roblox has held the ROBLOX Developers Conference starting in 2015. Roblox developers received a preview of the latest tech for the game, tips and tricks for building games, and a chance to deliver feedback directly to the Roblox team.
Roblox also held an Easter Egg hunt in the game starting in April 2008. According to the wiki, the event began with eggs dropping from the sky in a game, with players receiving eggs as cosmetic accessories if they find it. Since 2012, the event turned from an egg drop to an Easter Egg Hunt, with players going to a single game to find eggs. The 2013 Egg Hunt was the first game to get over 10,000 concurrent players as well as the first game to get over 1 million place visits in a week, according to the wiki.
4. Some Roblox Users Have Become Famous
From staff to fans, many users on Roblox are well known throughout the community.
Cassel, known on Roblox as erik.cassel, was a co-founder, administrator, and Former VP of Engineering on Roblox. In the interview, he said he got his first experience with computers at five years old when his father showed him a punch card machine at work that would dispense cards for drawing on. He started programming games in junior high school on a Radio Shack TRS-80 during recess. He would have to delete his games after recess as the computer had no hard drive, motivating him to get better and faster at writing code so he can play his games longer. He said he joined the Roblox team so that one day he would see someone drop a house into a giant blender in the game, and it happened.
I love to write code, but it’s the amazingly fun stuff that the ROBLOX community creates and does that motivates me. ROBLOX would be nothing without it.
Baszucki writes that after Cassel learned that he had cancer, Cassel worked selflessly to make sure his knowledge and insights were passed down to the rest of the Roblox engineering team. After living with cancer for three years, he died on February 11, 2013.
Baszucki wrote extensively about Cassel’s talent as a programmer and friend.
All of us at ROBLOX will miss Erik deeply. He will always be a role model to me and to all who worked with him. We celebrate the time we have been able to spend with him. Erik was incredibly talented, but I will always think of him as the “nicest guy I’ve ever met.”
Cassel’s sons created a memorial in Roblox to celebrate his memory. Roblox also renamed their “Well Worn Hat” to “Erik Cassel’s Hat” and promised to make a substantial contribution to cancer research in his name.
One of the most popular users on Roblox is NerfModder, aka Jackson Fowler, who joined on June 2008. He was the leader of the largest Russian-based group on Roblox, [русская армия] (aka Russian Army or RA), which obtained over 27,000 members at its peak according to the Roblox wiki. He eventually resigned and handed over the leadership position to User Treys1. He was born on February 25, 1995 and lived in Nova Scotia, Canada.
He was also a developer creating games for RA. One of his most famous is Moscow, which served as a popular spot for members of RA. He also designed Survival of the Living, a series of zombie survival games.
After struggling with depression for several years, Fowler committed suicide on June 3, 2015.
A group known as NerfModder’s Legacy was established to finish and update Fowler’s games. The group is run by ag4Official, JTF2RogueSniper, and Fowler’s mother Laura.
The description on the page for Jackson’s account has been replaced with a memorial written by Laura:
Over the years, NerfModder was respected and admired for his unique creativity and efforts he put into his games. He was a leader and friend to many. He’d never let a man down or leave anyone behind. He was a true comrade at arms, a warrior who won many battles… With the help of his comrades, NerfModder’s Legacy will continue in the games he has created, and every time you play, know that he is playing right along with you. Those who fight as one don’t stand alone.
Laura is also an advocate for suicide prevention, joining in the Halifax Walk for World Suicide Prevention Day in their hometown of Kentville in 2015 and spreading the story of her son.
5. The Creators Hope that Roblox Becomes Bigger than Minecraft
Baszucki told Forbes that it’s very likely that in the next couple of years they will pass Minecraft in the number of active monthly users. He also believes that companies like them are going to be as large as media companies and social networking companies.
In March 2017, Roblox raised a $29 million round of funding led by Meritech Capital Partners and Index Ventures. The focus of the new investment is in hiring and support of the company’s infrastructure to make the game seamless and keep up with the growing use on mobile devices.
“We are doubling down on mobile,” Baszucki said. “And we want to bring partners on board to help us expand.”
Forbes reports that the company had 68 employees in December 2013 but has risen to 163 by the end of 2016. Roblox also told Forbes that their revenue in 2016 was 11 times higher than it was in 2011.
Back in February, Roblox released a series of toys in partnership with Jazeares. Each toy comes with a redemmable code for exclusive virtual items.