Sandbox platform Roblox doesn’t typically get lots of attention in the games media, but it has some eye watering stats that reveal a hugely popular title.
To start, Roblox attracts 48 million monthly active users across its various platforms of mobile, PC, Mac, Xbox One and even VR.
Earlier this year it hit a new and impressive milestone: it had surpassed one million concurrent players for the first time
A quick look on Google Trends show search interest has grown steadily over the last few years, matching the current search interest in Pokemon GO and slowly edging toward another huge open sandbox game, Minecraft.
It’s these figures and impressive growth that is leading to wider ambitions at the Roblox Corporation, which develops the title.
To that end, the company has just raised $92 million to further develop the platform and bring in new employees.
Currently housing 180 staff, the company plans to quickly double that number as it ramps up its operations.
Speaking to PocketGamer.biz, Roblox VP of Marketing Tami Bhaumik says the popularity of the social platform has “exploded”.
“We’re seeing consistent growth year over year,” she states, later adding that revenue has grown by 3x in the last year.
Bhaumik claims that much of Roblox’s growth over the years has been organic. “We hardly spend any money on advertising at all,” she says, putting much of the game’s surge in popularity down to its core focus on user generated content.
“It’s really important to understand that we don’t see ourselves as a gaming company,” explains Bhaumik.
A lot of our young developers are creating little mini studios. They’re hiring other developers to develop for them.Tami Bhaumik
“We see ourselves as a technology platform for play. What that means is we give developers the tools to be able to create, to be able to share anything their imaginations can conjure, and then to invite their friends to play their creations.”
It’s perhaps one of the most unique aspects of Roblox, the ability for players to design new games for others to play. But what’s more, it lets users create their own content through its Roblox Studio development platform.
With all the content hosted in the cloud, developers can design games and immediately push them out to Roblox players, and the game’s engine makes sure it's available on all platforms.
“It takes a lot of the worry and a lot of the hassle out of distribution for a lot of these game developers,” says Bhaumik. “Over time these game developers become more sophisticated and they start customising their own code and developing their own virtual goods and upgrades in their games.”
She adds: “A lot of our young developers are creating little mini studios. They’re hiring other developers to develop for them. So in some respects, we’re creating mini ecosystems within the Roblox platform.”
The potential returns for developers who put time into designing content on the platform aren’t small either. Bhaumik says some of the top developers are making upwards of $50,000 a month from their creations.
Nothing off the table
While available across most of the major platforms, Bhaumik says a lot of the funding raised will be going toward “really dialling in mobile” and improving the overall experience on smartphones and tablets.
As for other areas the funding could go toward, other than developments in VR and improving the toolset, Bhaumik was tight-lipped.
She said the money in the bank would give the company flexibility, so nothing is off the table, such as potential acquisitions, but in that regard “there hasn’t been anything specifically designated yet”.
Expanding the IP into other business areas, such as it has done with physical toys, would also only be done if the firm felt it was right for the players.
“We would never dive into anything we think would hurt them in anyway, we always want to put them in the best light,” states Bhaumik.
“So whether it be movies, a Netflix franchise or anything like that, we would have to think very carefully about it.”