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The game is based on the animated TV series Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir, which targets girls ages 6 to 12 as well as boys ages 4 to 7. It is the first game based on a TV series to for Roblox. The game was released on May 4 in open beta to test stability. Due to the high number of plays within a short timeframe, Roblox’s indexes started including the game in the “popular” category within 48 hours and the “up and coming” category within 72 hours.
Zag produces the show (along with On Kids & Family), and it co-developed the game with the female-led publisher and developer Toya, a Tel Aviv-based company that targets games for girls on the Roblox platform.
“This just demonstrates the power of the platform where, even as a believer, you can’t believe when it’s actually happening,” said Toya CEO Anat Shperling in an interview with GamesBeat. “We didn’t do any marketing. We didn’t do any user acquisition. We didn’t do any publication of any sort. We wanted to check if there were issues or bugs with the game. So we just told our community on Discord and other social media and and Zag announced on theirs.”
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Roblox’s games have become so popular that people have played the most popular ones billions of times. For the year 2020, on average, 32.6 million people came to Roblox every day. More than 1.25 million creators have made money in Roblox. In the year ended December 31, 2020, users spent 30.6 billion hours engaged on the platform, an average of 2.6 hours per daily active user each day.
Miraculous Ladybug is about two typical teens with secret identities, Marinette and Adrien, who can transform into the superheroes Ladybug and Cat Noir when evil threatens Paris.
Miraculous taps into girls’ affinity for tales of first love, secret identities, teamwork, empowerment, friends, family, compassion, and fashion. It’s also an illustration of the “girl power” phenomenon: strong girls who don’t back down and make their way in the world, the company said.
The show has more than 15 million subscribers and 22 billion views on YouTube, and it’s broadcast in 120 countries. Fans have viewed more than 300 million hours of content. Zag is also making a movie based on the TV show.
The Zag partnership
Elinor Schops, the vice president of gaming experience at Zag Games, said in an interview that Zag (an animation studio) set up its Zag Games division in October.
Schops is based in Israel and formerly worked at Crazy Labs, which released a Miraculous Ladybug mobile game in April 2018. That game generated more than 150 million downloads.
“We’re happy with the performance,” said Schops. “We announced we were releasing the game in beta form and it was like setting it on fire. The players are more like the casting directors of the game, where they can tell us which characters they want in the game. It’s an extension of the Miraculous universe. No other platform lets us listen to the fans and implement what they want as quickly as Roblox.”
She met with Shperling and asked her to get involved in the women gaming community in Israel. They talked about what they could do and found a lot of common ground. Schops noted that she was pleased to establish a relationship with another Israeli company at a time when the country’s game industry is booming, as evidenced by Playtika’s recent initial public offering.
For the most part, Toya has been making its own original games. But Shperling saw the chance to work together because the content and the agenda behind the property was a fit for Toya’s own mission of creating female-led games.
The Toya game launched to coincide with the premiere of Miraculous World: Shanghai — Lady Dragon on the Disney Channel and Disney+.
Toya said 88% of players gave the game a “thumbs up.” Without any marketing efforts, the game exceeded 1 million daily active users in its first week of beta, with a rolling 7-day average of 1.2 million users, representing almost 3% of Roblox platform’s global daily active user base.
“Before they see something on TV, they get to see in it the game and become the directors of the show,” Schops said. “That’s what makes this game different from any other game that launched on Roblox. We’re giving them the power.”
In Miraculous Ladybug, players are transported to Miraculous Paris. There, they can role play characters from the show, re-create their favorite moments, hang out with friends, explore the city, play mini-games, defeat villains, and create their own Miraculous superhero.
Shperling that she never anticipated such viral success during the beta testing mode. She said she is humbled at how the game has been received by the Roblox community, and this is a validation for Toya’s mission and approach to creating on the platform, with inclusivity and a commitment to developing strong and diverse characters that serve as role models for girls, boys, and young adults to play with.
A big platform
The title is Toya’s seventh game on the Roblox platform. Toya Studio and Zag Games are looking to add new content and host unique live events in the coming months.
“Roblox feels like the ideal platform for game developers because it’s all about the community,” Shperling said. “And we’ve been working very, very closely with them on everything we developed in the game. We have thousands of followers on our Discord channel. And they are involved on a daily basis sharing insights and ideas on the game.”
Fans are also awaiting the launch of the theatrical feature, Ladybug & Cat Noir: Awakening, which is planned for release worldwide in fall 2021 or first quarter of 2022.
During 2020, Miraculous grew its digital reach by 178%. Miraculous attracts over 15 million subscribers across its nine official YouTube channels, currently available in eight languages.
Zag America is a global independent entertainment studio specializing in storytelling across TV, film and digital platforms. Zag was founded in France in 2009 by director and composer Jeremy Zag.
“I think it’s a new model as you don’t need to have the scope of the traditional game,” Shperling said. “With the live operation, you won’t need a lot of people in order to execute. It’s a different approach. So the costs are much lower than what we’re used to seeing and that traditional games industry.”
Shperling thinks the organic appeal of the show and Roblox will both grow over time. Toya has 15 employees and it could expand to more than 40 by the end of the year, Shperling said.
“I’ve been excited about this team for four years,” said Mike Vorhaus, an adviser for Toya and head of Vorhaus Advisors. “I think you’re going to see more studios making games for Roblox.”
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