The Roblox death sound, a comical and short “oof” noise, has become famous to the 90 million players who play games in the kids virtual world. But it turns out that Roblox may not have created the sound at all.
Instead, the credit apparently goes to Tommy Tallarico, who said in an email to GamesBeat that he owns the rights to the sound and will be talking to the company about being compensated for its use across many Roblox games over the past 14 years or so.
The sound has gone viral, with lots of memes coming from the “oof” sound.
Apparently the ROBLOX death sound is not actually from ROBLOX, but from the end of a game called Messiah (2000) pic.twitter.com/cVoLVkf7KT
— Buur (@Buurmantenus) June 2, 2019
But it comes from the end of a game called Messiah, which came out in 2000. A Twitter user named Buur first pointed out the similarity. And the sound file shows that the 0.34-second sound originated in September 1999 with credit to an engineer named Joey Kuras. Social media posts have exploded with the mini dust-up, and that’s how it came to the attention of Tallarico.
In an email, Tallarico said in an email that he owns the rights to the sound, as he created it and worked with Kuras to put the sound into the Messiah game.
“I’m actually dumbfounded that stuff like this is still happening in the game industry in this day and age,” Tallarico said. “Especially with a multi-billion dollar company. We are 100% positive (from the metadata on the sound file they have given over 100 million people) that the sound is mine and lifted from Messiah. I have all the contracts (that I did directly with Shiny Entertainment) showing I own the material.”
A spokesperson for Roblox said the company is aware of it and and is looking into the details. We’ll update the story when they send a comment.
Tallarico has been making news as the CEO of Intellivision Entertainment, which is building a new version of the famous retro game console from the 1990s. He was also founder of Video Games Live, the video game music concert series and he spoke at our recent GamesBeat Summit 2019 event.
But he is also an extremely prolific game music and sound producer who has worked in the game industry for more than three decades.
Tallarico said the sound has been heard hundreds of millions of times on YouTube, thanks to the millions of memes created by fans.
Tallarico said that Roblox hasn’t spoken to him yet.
“The first time I had heard about it was when fans of Roblox were e-mailing us saying how great it was to find out who did the iconic sound as it was such an important part of their childhood,” Tallarico said. “I guessed they had learned from YouTube and Twitter when it was uncovered that the metadata had the name Joey Kuras on there.”
Tallarico said Kuras was his sound editor for 15 years throughout the 1990s and into 2000s. Tallarico worked on the Messiah game from Shiny Entertainment.
He said that when you download the initial Roblox engine, the sound is under C:\Users\ [USER] \AppData\Local\Roblox\Versions\version-8f6438201fc84221\content\sounds. The file is: uuhhh.mp3.
As for the consequences, if the facts turn out to be as described, Roblox probably owes Tallarico a lot of money. Just how much is likely up for negotiation.
“The industry needs to know that they need to be more professional and do a little more due diligence before releasing projects or hiring contractors,” Tallarico said. “Roblox will be finding out the hard way as we are currently putting together the paperwork to demand compensation. And it won’t be cheap for them considering the circumstances. If it was just some small sound that no one ever really paid attention to it wouldn’t be as bad or costly. But the fact that the sound is part of the identity of the entire franchise needs to be factored into the damages.”
He added, “Millions of memes (i.e. free marketing) built around my sound, hundreds of millions of video views built around my sound, songs created with the sound, kids in playgrounds around the world repeating it… it has become a part of modern pop culture (and I had no idea as I never even played the game). And it is something that I own 100% and was stolen and used without my permission for over 13 years.”
And he said, “I don’t believe they know about it, and I don’t believe they did anything maliciously. Although whoever they hired to put the sounds in probably did. Unfortunately for them, its Roblox who will now be responsible.”