Looty on monetising Roblox: “You need to throw away a lot of what you already know about building games”

Chris Haga, president of Looty Games, the creators of fantasy roguelite game Ruin, explains what makes Roblox a winner

Looty on monetising Roblox: “You need to throw away a lot of what you already know about building games”

Roblox has exploded in the past decade from a fairly niche block-building, game-creation multiplayer platform to arguably the closest thing we have to a metaverse that’s living and breathing today.

So what’s it like to develop for the platform? We chatted to some of the biggest studios working on Roblox today about the highs and lows of working on the platform, what sort of experience they’ve had and most importantly, how they found success.

This time we spoke to Looty Games, creator of roguelite game Ruin. Having only recently launched this is a title that may indeed be one to watch with impressive visual fidelity and depth of gameplay that follows the trend of other studios we’ve covered in this series.

We spoke to Looty Games president, Chris Haga about their team’s experience building their game for Roblox and approaching monetisation on the platform. How did you approach building your game on Roblox?

Chris Haga: Our experience is from off-platform, mostly PC and mobile. When we started on Roblox, our initial approach was simply to take something we knew worked from mobile and bring it onto the platform. Quite soon we realised this is not a good idea. It turns out that for every mile of road there’s two miles of ditch!

From there we pivoted quickly, several times actually, until we settled on what we have now. Throughout the process we continuously incorporated more and more aspects of what makes Roblox games “Robloxy” and learnt what it is that the community is looking for in a game they play. Our like rate is now around 94% and we’re getting 10k+ visits a day in the week since launch.

I would strongly encourage off-platform devs to spend a few weeks or even months, playtesting Roblox games (of all sorts) for multiple hours per day before you decide what you want to make.

Did you have any development experience beforehand, and if so how did that inform your game?

Between us we have a ton of experience at studios like Riot, Blizzard, Bethesda, etc but many of the lessons learned from these places don’t really apply to Roblox products. We realised that the best thing you can do when starting to create on Roblox is to immediately forget everything you’ve learned until then - it’s a totally different experience to other platforms

What has your experience been like working on your game via Roblox, and how does it differ to other platforms?

Roblox as a platform has incredible strengths, chiefly among them is the speed of development. You shouldn’t spend more than two to four weeks on a new concept - you can deploy it quickly to 1,000 users for a few dollars and have it evolve from there.

The entire Roblox engine is built for speed. With that speed you often sacrifice complexity, but leaning into that is key to success.

A lot of studios on Roblox operate with smaller teams. Two people on Roblox can build a game that gets 6,000 concurrents or more so there’s no need to build out massive teams. Often the smaller teams are more efficient and can adapt more easily to feedback from the community.

With Roblox I think it’s also important to have clear KPI’s and closely monitor your acquisition costs. Proper attribution is still a work in progress, but with testing you can find channels that work effectively. For example, we’ve found that a great TikTok ad can help us recruit users profitably.

Another thing that makes Roblox different is the creator talent. There are developers on Roblox who are 19 years old and already have 10 years of game development experience. Some of the greatest game developers I’ve ever met have been from the Roblox platform.

What is your approach to cross-platform development?

Always ask yourself, from day one, “How will this play on Xbox? Mobile? PC?” so that you don’t have to go back and make changes later.

Also, look at how other Roblox games have solved hard UI and user experience problems. There’s so many games on the platform and there’s a lot to be used as inspiration.

Try your best to hotfix on the fly. Roblox players are very forgiving if you’re building something they like, and that feels genuine. The feedback they give is also really honest so is actually a great way to keep making improvements to keep players coming back.

How are you looking to monetise your game?

We monetise in three ways. First, are Direct Purchases which account for around 70% of our income. This is from sales of items we create like weapons, higher levels, gold and various utility items. There’s lots of things users can purchase to make their experience of the game more interesting.

The second way we make money is through commissions - this makes up around 15% You can customise your avatar in our experience with items that have been created by other developers or studios - we receive a small fee for avatar items sold that haven’t been created by us.

Finally, premium Payouts which again make up around 15% of our income. Roblox users can be “premium” if they spend a few dollars a month for a subscription to Roblox. When these users spend time in your game, you receive a fraction of this payment.

Staff Writer

Iwan is a Cardiff-based freelance writer, who joined the Pocket Gamer Biz site fresh-faced from University before moving to the editorial team in November of 2023.