One of gaming’s quiet phenomenons is turning 10 years old in 2015, and one of its creators thinks that this is also the year that the rest of the industry starts trying to catch up.
David Baszucki is the chief executive officer of Roblox, which developed and operates the gaming platform of the same name for PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Android. Baszucki explained to GamesBeat that the future of gaming is going to look a lot more like Roblox than the games coming out of traditional publishers like Ubisoft and Electronic Arts. The reason for that is because Roblox enables anyone to build games and share them with a massive audience. The platform originally debuted in 2005, and it features hundreds of small scenarios, levels, and modes. Now, going on 10 years later, it has grown to 4.5 million monthly active players who are constantly enjoying a steady stream of new games.
Baszucki believes that the things that keep Roblox expanding are exactly what other companies are going to try to emulate in 2015.
“Platforms for user-generated content — not just in games, but in general — will become as big as individual, traditional gaming content next year,” Baszucki told GamesBeat. “Platforms are going to get bigger and bigger. Minecraft and Microsoft are just the tip of the iceberg. You’re going to see more and more action in this space. Not just from Microsoft’s Project Spark and Sony’s LittleBigPlanet.”
While Microsoft and Sony have their user-generated content-driven games, Spark and LittleBigPlanet are missing some of the key aspects that has enabled Roblox to continue attracting new players and creators.
“We continually compare Roblox to traditional gaming companies,” said Baszucki. “The difference between us and them is that Roblox has millions of people always creating stuff. That gives us the viral juice both with the content and the sharing between all those users.”
Sure, Spark and LittleBigPlanet attract creators, but Roblox has taken that model and has given an incentive for using it: People who build games for Roblox can earn money from their creations. They get a split of the advertising revenue that comes from preroll video as well as from the sale of special items. This is a concept that Spark and LittleBigPlanet haven’t even toyed with.
This is an area that Baszucki expects more developers and publishers to start experimenting with.
“We’re passing milestones all the time on the amount of money our community developers are making,” said Baszucki. “And we’re seeing developers that are making $250,000 a year.”
Roblox isn’t alone in offering fan creators a way to make money by contributing content. Valve, the creator of Half-Life, is already using something similar for the hats and items it sells in free-to-play games like Team Fortress 2 and Dota 2. Regular people, not Valve developers, make the majority of the items you can buy for your characters in those Valve games, and the company splits the revenue with the artists responsible. Valve paid out $10.2 million to item creators in 2013, which is gigantic.
Another area where Roblox separates itself from similar games from Sony and Microsoft is accessibility.
“One of the things that is great for us right now is that our top user-created games are playable concurrently across many devices,” said Baszucki. “That’s iPhone, iPad, Android, PC, and Mac.”
LittleBigPlanet is on PlayStation devices only. Spark is on PC and Xbox One. Neither touch mobile.
In 2015 and beyond, Baszucki expects one or more other companies to figure out the formula that it has taken Roblox a decade to nail down. That means a free-to-play model, revenue sharing with creators, and cross-platform compatibility.