We all know that League of Legends is huge and that all the kids are playing Minecraft, but another hit has built up a mammoth audience without drawing a lot of attention from outside its dedicated fan base.
At its peak, Roblox has had 161,200 concurrent players all logged in at the same time. That’s more than the all-time peak for zombie co-op shooter Left 4 Dead 2 (161,000), and it’s just behind shooter Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (170,000). What’s amazing is that Roblox, which is a free-to-play game where anyone can create games in a Lego-like world, is still growing quarter after quarter despite that it debuted in 2005. The Roblox development team released a blog today that compares its success to some of the biggest hits on Valve’s Steam digital distribution network, and it reveals Roblox’s amazing staying power.
“Roblox is just fun. That’s what keeps people playing,” Roblox chief executive Dave Baszucki told GamesBeat. “The typical player spends more than 15 hours a week with us. [That’s compared to] only 3 hours per week watching TV, according to surveys we’ve conducted.”
Roblox primarily attracts younger players between the ages of 8 and 18. But it has older players, too: Once they get started, they aren’t really letting go. That’s potentially because a Roblox member might start out as a player, but as they get more sophisticated, they can switch over to creating games for others.
“Since Roblox isn’t just about designing and coding and playing games — but is also a creative and social outlet for our builders and players — our community happily spends a lot of time here,” said Baszucki.
Roblox players spend 60 million hours per month in the game. While the hugely popular multiplayer online battler Dota 2 eclipses that with 330.6 million, Roblox is right behind Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s 61.4 million. It is also almost double Team Fortress 2’s 35 million.
The young age of the audience enables Roblox to spread when friends start talking about it while in class or hanging out.
“Word of mouth is our biggest business driver,” said Baszucki. “Friends telling friends, social media, and videos all contribute to this. Our Twitch channel is one of the fastest growing channels they’ve ever had, and we trended top 10 across the US and Canada on Twitter during our online fan convention on YouTube last September.”
That huge audience that can’t peel their eyes away from Roblox enables the company to generate revenue from selling preroll video ads before games start. The developer has also released an iOS app to give its fans a way to stay engaged while on the go.
More than anything, however, Roblox knows how important its community creators are. The fact that the game always has new content is likely one of the reasons fans keep coming back. To encourage that, Roblox recently started its Developer Exchange program that rewards creators of popular games with cash.
“Since our introduction of DevEx, several people have already made more than $10,000,” said Baszucki. “And we’re getting a lot of attention from people who want to create games on our platform.”