Roblox is one of the most popular gaming platforms in the world. Millions of people use it, including children. The service gives access to thousands of user games and allows you to create your games with free tools and get income from them.
The latter is often mentioned in advertisements for the service. Roblox Corporation promises teenagers quick and easy money, which many believe. Hundreds of children try to create a masterpiece on the platform, but only a few manage to earn money on their game. And even these lucky ones get pennies.
Roblox platform appeared in 2004, and for 18 years, it has become trendy. By April 2022, it had attracted more than 200 million people worldwide. For example, more than half of teenagers in the U.S. use Roblox. By installing Roblox, users get access to millions of games in different genres and free tools that are easy to learn.
To find more about Roblox, you can read my article “The Multiverse of Madness: How Roblox Works”.
The platform exists due to the author's games, so the platform managers are interested in users' creativity. And Roblox's target audience is children who want to create content for their peers. The vice-president of marketing confirms this. The strategy has paid off. Now, Roblox is more expensive than Ubisoft and Electronic Arts.
Roblox attracts users not only with its free tools: the platform also does not charge for game hosting and moderation. However, all this does not bring money to the service, but rather the opposite. The platform earns money on a different basis: content monetization, for which the service has a lot of possibilities.
It's impossible to play Roblox without making other gamers richer. The user will still want (or have to) buy something, whether game passes or cosmetic items. Many developers add aggressive monetization to their games to get rich.
They hope for a high income for a reason. The authors of Roblox instill in the user the idea of easy earnings. For example, the opportunity to "get serious money" is one of the features of the free toolkit, along with the chance to create anything and interest millions of players. It also mentions that top developers make up to two million dollars a year through microtransactions.
Moreover, Roblox's PR specialists tell the public success stories of young developers, and one of the lessons on the site reveals ways to monetize the created game.
In Roblox, user creativity is called "experiences" rather than "games”. This makes it possible to bypass the rules of the Apple Store, where games with a built-in store are not allowed.
The platform's authors make children feel like they are doing what they love and easily earn good money. Of course, they want to try to get rich and install Roblox. But after creating the first game, teenagers encounter unobvious obstacles.
Most underage developers do not get any income from their games. There are several reasons for this.
First of all, Roblox does not help promote new games for free. The user sees only a few hundred popular titles in the Discovery tab, while their total number exceeds 20 million. The chance that your game will be noticed is almost zero.
In addition, the app does not allow you to sort games by recent release or the names of new users, which would help newcomers in the promotion.
Roblox has an Up-and-Coming section, but even there, the user sees games with several thousand users. The Learn and Explore section, where games with a few players are placed, helps a little, but there are no more than a couple of dozens of them.
There is a way out of this situation. The user only needs to purchase advertising on the platform for in-game currency - Robux. It can be earned in games or purchased for real money. However, even this expenditure does not guarantee anything.
The fact is that in Roblox, users participate in an auction for promotion. For example, if one user pays for advertising 100 Robux and the other - 300, the banner of the second player will flash on the website three times more often. Considering that 400 Robux costs $5, it's not hard to imagine how much revenue the service authors get from gamers' attempts to get the general audience.
I can compare this process to trying to record a viral video on TikTok or create a popular meme. The user has to hit a specific target audience (usually children), come up with the proper gameplay, and don't miss a promotion. The chance of missing is very high, and hundreds of competitors do not sleep.
But even if the lucky player manages to make an exciting game and attract the public with advertising, they can still end up with nothing. Roblox takes a commission on each transaction, and the user gets the rest in Robux. The minimum threshold for converting them into real currency is 100 000 Robux (about a thousand dollars).
Of course, most users don't manage to earn that 100 000 Robux even after spending money on advertising and a $5 premium subscription, which is required for withdrawal. The threshold seems incredibly high when compared to other games. For example, the authors of MMORPG Entropia Universe and Second Life allow you to withdraw amounts starting from $100 and $10, respectively.
But the user will remain a loser even if he accumulates the required amount. They buy and sell currency at different rates. If a player wants to buy 100 000 Robux, he will have to spend more than $1000. However, if he withdraws that amount, he will earn only $350.
Roblox does everything to ensure that people spend Robux inside the platform and that the service authors constantly receive a commission from transactions. Roblox keeps 75.5% of all sales on the platform.
However, content creators can get a share of much less than 24.5%, given all the withdrawal pitfalls. Even professional game developers for Roblox do not know what salary they will receive next month.
The problems listed above occurred a long time ago. Developers have written forum posts asking them to reconsider revenue sharing, but they've been getting nothing in response. Roblox constantly said it was trying to do everything to make life better for content creators. But the situation has not changed.
The reluctance of Roblox to solve the problem can be explained by the constant losses, which the company reports annually. But such excuses are not severe. I think the service leaders are trying to monopolize the market, investing income in the constant expansion of the platform, which is impossible to recoup. So they have an answer to why game authors are not paid enough.
I know an 11-year-old Roblox user who tried to make a profitable game but failed. He had no money to promote it, so no one noticed his game. The competitors with cash, meanwhile, were making headway in the rankings.
The kid summed it up: despite the assurances of the platform's representatives about easy earnings, the chances of success in this business are practically zero.
It turns out that almost all of the revenue from the games goes to the established developers that Roblox Corporation talks about in the ads. The platform supports these creators with constant bonuses. For example, for the time that gamers spend in their games. Young developers, meanwhile, can make as interesting a game as they want, but no one will see it without paid promotion.
However, children do not see such explanations in Roblox ads and continue to create free content for the platform with little chance of finding its audience. In addition, an exciting idea can be intercepted by more experienced developers, and its author will not receive any compensation.
Children can not post games on Steam, for example. Even the skills they learned at Roblox Studio are unlikely to be used anywhere else because the system is unique. Therefore, they are forced to stay on the platform for fear of losing their games.
I advise young creators not to raise their expectations by registering at Roblox and not risk their health for an illusory chance to earn extra money.
I also recommend you to read “The Dark Side of Roblox: Child Exploitation and Sex Games”