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Roblox is one of the biggest games in the world. It attracts a huge audience of young people. And that makes it an ideal platform for someone like Anat Shperling, CEO and co-founder of Toya, who is not your average game developer.
“We are a non-U.S., non-traditional gaming studio. My background is film and television, but I consider myself a storyteller,” says Shperling. “Looking at the games industry and the narratives we wanted to share — equal narratives with girls and boys — it was really fascinating for us to partner with Roblox.”
Boasting more than 43 million active daily players, Roblox isn’t really a game, but a platform for users and developers to make their own games and experiences. Working in a similar manner to that of free-to-play games, Roblox experiences are available at no cost to players. The real profit comes from the availability of cosmetic items for purchase with a currency called Robux, of which the developer gets a share. Once the developer hits a certain Robux threshold, they can exchange them for real world money. But to get to that point, you need a successful product. For Toya, that happened with Miraculous RP: Ladybug and Cat Noir — an experience it created to go hand-in-hand with the cartoon of the same name.
With the release of their beta for Miraculous RP: Ladybug and Cat Noir, Shperling knew they had a hit. “We didn’t announce it, because we wanted to make sure there weren’t any issues when we released the game. We only told our community on discord that we were releasing a beta and told them it would be awesome if they’d like to hop in and check it out. When it was launched, it was a couple of thousand players. A couple of hours later it was tens of thousands. A couple of hours later it was hundreds of thousands. Then 24 hours later it was a million and a half. And it didn’t drop.”
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After the full launch of their game, and its subsequent success, to what does Toya attribute their achievement? According to Shperling, it’s the community. “In our discord we have a lot of girls and boys playing Roblox on a daily basis. With our community manager, we share everything with them. Even the development process. If there’s a character or feature or mechanic we want to test, we bring it to the community. We do not decide for them, we decide with them. It’s a really different approach, there’s a lot you can share in advance, get feedback and implement. Once you launch, there’s a lot you already know.”
With hope that game development becomes open to more people, Shperling has this message for would-be content creators about the Roblox platform: “If you are someone who has been hesitating, but really want to create something, or have an idea of something new you want to bring into the industry, then Roblox is the perfect place to do just that. It’s really, really easy. I can’t emphasize enough how easy it is.”
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