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Roblox is one of gaming’s many quiet giants. Or, if you have teenagers or children, perhaps it is not so quiet. The long-running user-generated content platform went public in March with a $41.9 billion valuation thanks in large part to its massive audience of young players. But the company’s worth also comes from the community creators who earn a cut of the money that players spend on their games. And now that business model is so lucrative that it’s attracting professional studios.
Gamefam is one of those pro development teams. The company started up two years ago with the purpose of applying traditional-development techniques to the world of Roblox, and that is paying off. Gamefam’s Roblox games rack up 50 million monthly visitors and six-figure monthly revenue. I spoke with Gamefam chief executive officer Joe Ferencz for the How Games Make Money podcast, and you can listen to that interview below.
“I started [Gamefam] two years ago after watching Roblox grow for 5 years,” said Ferencz. “I’ve been working in the pop culture business for 20 years, and Gamefam is the culmination of a much longer journey than that in terms of wanting to be a creator and wanting to run a creative business.”
Ferencz was part of the deal that brought Hot Wheels into Forza and Rocket League. But while that was happening, he kept an eye on Roblox. He was also noticing that while mobile free-to-play was massive in scale and revenues, it was also growing more stagnant and solidified in terms of who could succeed in that space.
“So when I saw Roblox rising up, I knew that when it hit critical mass that it was going to be the next big platform,” said Ferencz. “So in 2019, I started Gamefam with the intention of bringing the professionalism that we’ve come to know in the gaming industry at large to Roblox.”
The idea behind Gamefam is that it can provide structures and processes that bring out the most from Roblox creators. That means bringing in experts from outside of the Roblox community, but it also means deeply incorporating talent native to the platform.
“I guess our unique calling card is that we are truly a hybrid of what we call native Robloxian developers,” said Ferencz. “These are incredible young developers who started playing Roblox when they were 8 or 9 years old and started making their own games around 15 and 16. Now they are really coming into their own as creators. And so we are about half gaming industry veterans from places like Ubisoft, Zynga, Blizzard, and DeNA and half Robloxians.”
And this model is working for both the studio and for the creators it partners with. Gamefam started working on a game recently called Little World that a trio of Eastern European cousins made during their time in college. And those cousins approached Gamefam because they had a hit and didn’t know what to do with it next.
“We have built this reputation on the platform for being a place where if you have a game that’s gaining traction, and you kind of don’t know what to do, which is very typical for some of these teams, then you come to Gamefam,” said Ferencz. “We will build a plan for you. We will help understand where your game is already monetizing and then help it monetize more.”
The original team remains in control of the game, but with Gamefam’s help, Little World has already doubled its weekly revenue.
Now, Ferencz wants to grow this business model, and he expects that Roblox as a platform will empower Gamefam to do exactly that.
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