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PGC Seattle Speaker Spotlight: Roblox's Enrico D'Angelo on a UGC platform that encourages entrepreneurship

Pocket Gamer Connects Seattle 2019 will take place on May 13th to 14th
PGC Seattle Speaker Spotlight: Roblox's Enrico D'Angelo on a UGC platform that encourages entrepreneurship
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Pocket Gamer Connects Seattle 2019 will take place on May 13th to 14th. To give you a taste of what to expect, we'll regularly be publishing interviews with the speakers at the show.

For more details on PGC Seattle and to book a ticket, head to the website here.

Today we're speaking with Roblox Corporation VP, product Enrico D'Angelo.

D'Angelo is an accomplished industry leader with more than 15 years of experience in domestic and international corporate strategy, product management and business development.

Prior to joining Roblox, he was at Activision and launched several free-to-play products including Call of Duty: Online, Call of Duty Heroes and Call of Duty: Mobile. In addition, D'Angelo led Activision Blizzard’s strategy, business development and M&A team. He also previously served as associate principal at McKinsey & Company where he served media, games companies and investors worldwide.

D'Angelo received his MBA from Harvard Business School and graduated with a BS in Business from LUISS Guido Carli (Rome, Italy). Could you tell us a bit about your talk at PGC?

Enrico D'Angelo: There has been a lot of buzz about new gaming platforms, the 'Netflix of gaming', game streaming and cross-platform compatibility.

However, there is more to the future of gaming than just moving traditional triple-A titles to the cloud or all-you-can-eat subscription models. The Roblox platform features a sophisticated technology backend that promotes an exclusively user-generated content experience for our community.

Roblox’s UGC platform encourages individual entrepreneurship while actively and responsibly promoting safety and civility. Roblox sees the future of 3D multiplayer experiences incorporating a social fabric that brings together people from all over the world to enjoy millions of human co-experiences, powered by a robust, cloud-based game engine that allows anyone to create and be successful.

Could you tell us a bit about Roblox?

Roblox’s mission is to bring the world together through play. Every month, more than 90 million people around the world have fun with friends as they explore millions of immersive digital experiences.

All of these experiences are built by the Roblox community, made up of over two million creators. We believe in building a safe, civil, and diverse community - one that inspires and fosters creativity and positive relationships between people around the world.

What does your role entail?

I guide our developer product strategy to empower creators as they build immersive, cross-platform experiences reaching millions of players around the world. In particular, I lead product teams responsible for our avatars, game engine, game services, developer tools, Roblox Studio (our integrated development environment), and game experience.

Why did you want to work in the games industry?

I have been a gamer for as long as I can remember, starting with the Atari 2600 and I never stopped. Games are my passion and they are what gets me excited to get up and go to work every day.

I have always had a fascination with the game development process and I strived to get closer and closer to game makers with every new job. Developers are often the unsung heroes of this industry and in my role at Roblox my mission is to make as many of them as possible hugely successful.

In my role, I have a great opportunity to help young developers create and grow, with many of them becoming successful entrepreneurs and creating experiences played by 10s of millions of players.

What advice would you give to anyone looking to get into it?

If you are passionate about game making, just go for it. With the myriad of creation and collaboration tools and libraries available to anyone, you don’t need a game company to give you a job - there is truly no excuse.

For example, Roblox embraces that mantra and offers truly free tools and services to build games from scratch and scale them to millions of players worldwide. We have young developers literally making millions every year with games they built by themselves or with small teams they work with remotely and never met in person.

What are your thoughts on the industry in the last 12 months?

It is undeniable that products like Roblox and Fortnite have driven several of the most important industry trends in recent history:

  1. Games are becoming places for general entertainment and hanging out: in Roblox one of the main reasons to play is the social aspect of the platform, supported by a common identity across all games and a friend graph tightly tied into all of the platform features. Fortnite’s experiment with digital concerts also point in the direction of games
  2. Shift of focus from individual games to platforms has also been massive. That’s one of the major drivers of Roblox’ growth, and many companies, from Epic to Google are making big bets on platforms.

These are profound trends that have just started manifesting but will have a long-term impact in the way digital entertainment is perceived and enjoyed by mass audiences.

What major trends do you predict in the next 12 months?

Mobile: Mobile is already growing faster than console and it is already a larger worldwide market both in terms of users and revenues. I expect the boundaries between mobile, PC, and console to continue blurring in the near future, in a couple of ways. Mobile has the potential to become the de-facto standard platform across all genres, including core and competitive games.

Genre convergence: Games that are generally PC/console-only will start making their way onto mobile. In particular, more core genres and anything multiplayer and competitive will show up more and more on mobile. This will be driven by both advancement in hardware technology and younger cohorts of players growing up.

Cross-platform play: We will see more and more multiplayer games allowing people to play together synchronously from different platforms. Roblox allows for cross-platform play natively but you are already starting to see this with games such as Rocket League and Fortnite.

User-generated content: UGC is becoming increasingly integrated into the fabric of gaming products; Roblox is natively a UGC platform but even more traditional products like Fortnite and even Overwatch are investing in the idea of user-driven gameplay.

Platforms:The 'platform wars' will settle with a couple of clear winners.

How has the games industry changed since you first started?

It went from selling finite physical (or digital) goods, not too dissimilar from any other form of entertainment, to 100 per cent focused on services and continued audience engagement.

Monetisation and business models have changed drastically and become orders of magnitude more complicated.

Platform and geographies that were not even on the map are now the largest:

  • Asia has become the largest games market in the world; gaming has become global.
  • Phones have become the largest platform in terms of reach and revenues.

Which part of the Connects event are you most looking forward to and why?

Meeting new developers and getting them excited about what we are doing at Roblox and engaging with industry colleagues.

Find out more about Pocket Gamer Connects Seattle 2019 on the website.