Roblox allows users the ability to create their own in-game experiences, complete with cosmetics. Historically, purchases of in-game items has seen users receive 50% of the revenue, with Roblox pocketing the rest.
However, some months ago a trend emerged allowing users to try on items from most experiences in any experience that they were currently playing. By doing so, the item creator would only receive 20% of the total, while the developer of the current experience would receive 30%, and Roblox would receive 50%. Essentially, the developers of an experience would receive more money for the purchase than the item’s creator, seemingly profiting from acting as a middleman and taking what has been deemed as an unfair cut of the original creator’s work.
Roblox had planned to combat such practices through the use of prompts, telling users equipping an item that they would have to switch to its source experience to make the purchase.
Power to the people?
However, the prospect of such a prompt, which was due to roll out on September 27, has come as a blow to the developers of so-called 'Wardrobe Experiences' who receive a 30% fee under the scheme, essentially acting as in-game department stores creating a place to experience items (and profit from their sale) but rely on other parties to make them.
“If players are given a purchase prompt every time they equip an item IT WILL KILL OUR GAMES,” wrote once such developer, Evanbear1.
“That is a HORRIBLE user experience, and completely kills the purpose of players being able to try-on items in-game in the first place. This is a bit ironic because players are able to try on items on the website without forcing a purchase prompt because they have the buy button right there, except we do the same thing and aren’t being held to the same standards.”
Evanbear1 also criticised the lack of clarity offered to developers regarding the specifics of the policy.
The decision to implement the new policy comes as Roblox has become increasingly popular with the upcoming opening of the platform’s creation tools to a larger portion of the creative community. With more and more IP creators keen to establish a metaverse presence, with Roblox in particular being a popular choice, the prospect of a third-party earning a higher percentage of revenue based on the sale of their items is likely to make creators wary. More specifically the use of valuable real-world IP in experiences not owned (and not 100% monetised) by the brands who are making them has given Roblox some heat.
However, it appears that Roblox’s attempts to address this issue have swung too far in the other direction, with “Wardrobe Experience” developers fearing for their own ability to earn.
Creators vs. developers?
It appears that Roblox has fallen on the side of developers, with a representative of the company writing: “We value your feedback and concerns. Our intent with this policy is to further ensure that UGC creations are respected and properly used across the platform. We realise that the requirements behind the policy are very nuanced and have a significant impact on experience creators. We sincerely apologise for causing these concerns.
“In light of this, we have decided to pause the rollout of the policy. This means that on September 27, you will NOT be subject to moderation for this policy.”
However, this halt appears to be temporary, as Roblox is actively investigating a method by which it can maximise the revenue for item creators without impacting the ability of developers to generate revenue from the sale of third-party items.
“As a next step, we will thoroughly consider all your use cases and feedback, and refine the policy as appropriate while respecting creators’ rights. Once we finalise the policy, we will provide ample time to meet its requirements. We promise to keep you updated with any new information in the coming days.”
We listed Roblox as one of the top 50 mobile game makers of 2023.