Roblox: all the news about the popular social and gaming platform

  • Roblox is putting its own spin on video chat

    Image: Roblox

    Roblox is launching its own take on video chat called Roblox Connect, the company announced at its Roblox Developers Conference (RDC) 2023 on Friday. The feature, which is set to launch later this year, lets you chat with other people as your Roblox avatar, and your avatar will be able to mimic your real-life facial movements. The call will also take place in a shared virtual space that you can run around in, like a campsite or a dock.

    Roblox is already designed to be a social app where you can use text and voice chat to keep in touch while exploring virtual experiences with your friends, so it’s not too much of a stretch for the company to make a video-focused feature that’s also designed as a place to hang out and talk. It’s also an easy way for Roblox to show off its recently launched facial animations. (I have to imagine Roblox Connect will be Roblox’s preferred way to do interviews at its in-Roblox career center, especially when paired with Roblox’s plan to introduce support for real names.)

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  • Roblox is finally coming to PlayStation

    Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

    Roblox will finally be available on PlayStation soon. At its 2023 Roblox Developers Conference (RDC) on Friday, Roblox announced that its popular social and gaming app is coming to PS4 and PS5 in October.

    Roblox, which is free to download, is already out on a bunch of platforms, including PC, Mac, iOS, Android, and Xbox, but the lack of support for Sony’s consoles has felt like a notable hole in Roblox’s lineup. There have been some clues that a PlayStation version has been in the works, though: a 2022 job listing indicated that Roblox was hiring for a PlayStation engineer, and CEO David Baszucki hinted on an August earnings call that the company has been looking at bringing the app to PlayStation and Nintendo Switch.

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  • Roblox is going to let creators that make assets and tools keep nearly all of their sales

    Image: Roblox

    Roblox is going to let creators that sell assets and tools for other creators on its marketplace keep all of the revenue from their sales minus taxes and payment processing fees, the company announced at its Roblox Developers Conference (RDC) 2023 on Friday. The change goes into effect starting sometime next year.

    This will be a big change — though it will only apply to sales on the Creator Marketplace, which is for creators to sell to creators, and not to sales on the Marketplace (formerly Avatar Shop) where people can sell avatar-related goods.

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  • Roblox’s new AI chatbot will help you build virtual worlds

    Image: Roblox

    Roblox announced a new conversational AI assistant at its 2023 Roblox Developers Conference (RDC) that can help creators more easily make experiences for the popular social app. The new tool, the Roblox Assistant, builds on previously announced features that let creators build virtual assets and write code with the help of generative AI.

    With the Roblox Assistant, creators will be able to type in prompts to do things like generate virtual environments. In one demo, somebody types in “I want to make a game set in ancient ruins,” and Roblox drops in some stones, moss-covered columns, and broken architecture. “Make the player spawn by a campfire in the ruins” adds a campfire and a stool. “Add some trees for the player to chop down” adds trees nearby. Roblox will grab assets from either its marketplace or your own visual asset library, according to Roblox spokesperson Roman Skuratovskiy.

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  • Roblox makes an in-Roblox career center that’s all about Roblox

    Roblox has created a virtual career center inside Roblox where people can learn more about the metaverse platform, prepare for interviews at the company, and attend events hosted by Roblox itself, according to a blog post. In the future, some initial interviews will even happen directly in the experience, Roblox says.

    You can get an idea of what it looks like in this video, which I’ve also embedded at the top of the post. “You’ll see what it’s like to work here and how you can join us in shaping the future of human connection and communication,” says a voiceover in the clip. In the experience, you can go to places like a lobby (with plaques featuring the company’s values), a library, an auditorium, a boba cafe, and more.

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  • Roblox is aiming for Westworld-like ease of design with generative AI tools

    Illustration: The Verge

    Roblox CEO David Baszucki envisions that its generative AI systems might someday work in a way that’s somewhat similar to what you might have seen on the sci-fi show Westworld, based on comments during Roblox’s Q2 2023 earnings call on Wednesday.

    The Westworld comparison came up as part of a longer answer about how AI might be able to help Roblox developers.

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  • Data breach exposes personal information of 4,000 Roblox developers

    The original data breach may date as far back as December 2020.

    The Verge

    Sensitive information identifying thousands of Roblox creators has been exposed following a data breach impacting attendees at a conference for Roblox developers, which allegedly remained undisclosed by the company for at least two years. As reported by PC Gamer, the leak contains personal information from people who attended the Roblox Developer Conference between 2017-2020, including names, usernames, date of birth, physical addresses, email addresses, IP addresses, phone numbers, and even T-shirt sizes. 

    Roblox is aware of a third-party security issue where there were indications of unauthorized access to limited personal information of a subset of our creator community,” said a Roblox spokesperson to PC Gamer. “We engaged independent experts to support the investigation led by our information security team. Those who are impacted will receive an email communicating the next steps we are taking to support them. We will continue to be vigilant in monitoring and vetting the cyber security posture of Roblox and our third-party vendors.”

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  • Roblox is coming to Meta’s Quest VR headsets

    Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

    Roblox will be coming to Meta’s Quest VR headsets starting with an open beta that will be available in the “coming weeks,” according to a blog post from Meta. You’ll be able to try out this Quest version of Roblox on the Quest 2 and Quest Pro, and Meta says Roblox will work on the forthcoming Quest 3 as well.

    “Roblox is automatically publishing some experiences that use default player scripts to support VR devices,” Meta writes. “They’ve found that those experiences typically run well in VR without modifications, so they’re seeding the Roblox VR library with great content from day one.” There should be a lot of experiences to choose from; the platform has more than 15 million “active experiences” right now, Roblox says. And this Quest version of Roblox will support cross-platform play, so you’ll be able to jump into experiences with players on Xbox, mobile, and desktop.

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  • Why CEO David Baszucki is ready for Roblox to grow up

    Roblox, the virtual world and game platform, has 66 million daily users who spent 14 billion collective hours on it in just Q1 of 2023. If you have kids, you’ve probably heard of Roblox. If you haven’t heard of it, Roblox CEO David Baszucki wants to change that. 

    One idea? Aging up the kinds of experiences that are allowed on its platform. Roblox recently introduced 17-plus experiences. It wants to add new AI world-building capabilities. It’s even partnering with advertisers to roll out more immersive ad experiences.

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  • Roblox will allow exclusive experiences for people 17 and over

    Roblox recently partnered with the Parsons School of Design on a course that had college students design virtual avatars.

    Image: Roblox

    Roblox has been signaling that it wants to be more than a gaming platform for kids. Today, the company is making another push in that direction by letting its creators make experiences specifically for people who are 17 and older.

    The new age category will allow for more graphic content and adult themes than Roblox has permitted to date, including depictions of heavy bloodshed and alcohol use, chief product officer Manuel Bronstein tells me. To keep underage users from accessing 17 and older experiences, Roblox will require that people scan their driver’s licenses and submit a selfie before they can access the new category.

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  • Roblox goes to college

    Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

    At a recent presentation in New York, Parsons School of Design students showcased outfits they created over the course of a semester. The looks include a pale pink mock neck top and pants set with deep sea-themed patterns, a strapless mini dress made from glimmering gold feathers, and a patterned gown with strings of gravity-defying water droplets swirling its orbit. But none of the clothes are modeled by humans. They don’t even exist in the physical world. 

    The nine looks made by students in the Parsons class were made in Roblox, the sprawling online gaming universe that millions of parents can’t get their kids to stop talking about. Those same kids will soon be able to purchase and wear the Parsons designs — or at least their digital counterparts can.

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  • Roblox really wants you to know that it isn’t just for kids

    Image: The Verge

    Roblox’s founder and CEO published a blog post this morning stressing just how much the company believes the popular gaming platform isn’t just for kids.

    The platform’s audience is starting to trend older, David Baszucki wrote in a blog post. He noted that more than 55 percent of the platform’s users are older than 13, the platform’s “fastest-growing demographic segment” is users between 17 and 24 years old, and that the 17–24 age bracket represents 22 percent of Roblox’s player base. Developers older than 17 make “the majority of our top 1000 experiences,” Baszucki wrote, and “many seek to create experiences for older audiences so they can interact exclusively with those their age.”

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  • Roblox creators can now make and sell limited-run avatar gear

    Image: The Verge

    Roblox is now letting creators sell digital items that are only available in limited quantities, according to a post on its developer forums. That means, for example, that a creator can make a small number of digital sweaters for Roblox avatars in an effort to make that sweater feel more valuable. Users will also be able to resell these limited items, and when that happens, the original creator will get a 10 percent cut of every sale.

    Before now, creators could already make and sell digital items (which you may see referred to as “user-generated content,” or UGC). Roblox is calling these new user-made limited items “Limiteds,” and yes, the entire premise of a scarce digital Roblox good feels like it’s straying into the realm of NFTs.

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  • Fortnite and Roblox are dueling for the future of user-built games

    Image: Epic Games

    We’re racing toward a world where Fortnite and Roblox could rival Steam and the App Store in terms of the size of their game libraries. Both have growing ecosystems of millions of players who build and spend time in custom battle royales, chat rooms, and all kinds of other games. We’re looking at the fight for what could be the next YouTube. 

    While the two giants may be the biggest in the space, they are far from the only companies building out a catalog of tools that make the jump from game playing to game making far simpler than traditional game engines Unity or Unreal. All sorts of platforms, including the browser-based dot big bang and the top-down-focused CliCli, are looking for a piece of a market that already holds the attention of hundreds of millions of players. 

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  • Roblox is working on generative AI tools

    Roblox (the company) is working on generative AI tools to help developers who build experiences on Roblox more easily create games and assets. The first two tests of the tools will roll out in the coming weeks: a tool to make “generative AI materials from a text prompt” and a tool for generative AI to complete code, according to a blog post from Daniel Sturman, Roblox’s chief technology officer.

    You can get an idea of how they’ll work in this short video, which I’ve also embedded at the top of this post. In one example, somebody types in different descriptions of materials for a car, and those patterns are applied right away. In others, you can see how autocompleting code might work for things like turning on the car’s lights and making it rain in the game’s world.

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  • Roblox’s new Creator Hub could make things a lot easier for developers

    The new Hub is starting to roll out now.

    Image: Roblox

    Roblox is officially completing its rollout of the Creator Hub, a new hub that gives developers more tools and centralizes things like documentation and a developer forum into one place. Making the information easier to find seems like it could be quite helpful for developers, and that has an important aftereffect for Roblox, too: Roblox makes its money by taking a cut of what its developers earn, so it’s incentivized to make things better for the creators on its platform.

    Creator Hub aggregates five Roblox resources, Nick Tornow, Roblox’s VP of engineering, tells The Verge:

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  • Roblox and Parsons School of Design are creating a digital fashion course

    Image: Roblox

    Parsons School of Design students will soon be able to take a Roblox course as part of their studies.

    The class will “explore the intricate relationship between digital and physical fashion set in an immersive future” and teach Parsons students how to create 3D digital fashion using Roblox tools. Though it’s led by Parsons faculty, it’s created in collaboration with the gaming giant, with Roblox representatives in marketing, creative, and education collaborating with Parsons.

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  • Anti-social media lawsuits are coming for Roblox and Discord

    The Discord logo

    Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

    Roblox and Discord are among the platforms sued for allegedly harming children and teens in a new lawsuit. The suit, which also targets Meta’s Facebook platform and Snap’s Snapchat, alleges that the companies’ services “contain unique product features which are intended to and do encourage addiction, and unlawful content and use of said products, to the detriment of their minor users.”

    Filed in California state court, the suit is one of many brought against large social media companies. But comparatively few of these have covered Discord and Roblox, both of which are popular with young users. (Over half of US children were on Roblox as of 2020.) It comes shortly after California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a law requiring sites to change how they treat users under 18 and follows a UK coroner directly blaming social media for a teenager’s suicide, albeit not in a way that carries clear legal consequences.

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  • Walmart launches ‘metaverse’ experience in Roblox to sell toys to children

    Walmart has launched a pair of “immersive experiences” in online gaming platform Roblox. The retailer is presenting the launch as an ambitious move into the metaverse, but the “experiences” — two online worlds dubbed Walmart Land and Walmart’s Universe of Play — are really just ways to advertise toys to children. Roblox may seem trivial, but it has more than 50 million daily active users, two-thirds of which are under the age of 16. That means it’s probably Walmart experimenting with virtual worlds to try and hook this market.

    Walmart Land and Universe of Play are virtual lobbies. Inside are a variety of minigames and experiences, including a Ferris wheel, “interactive piano walkway,” and DJ booth, most of which serve to funnel players towards certain brands. So, for example, a virtual dressing room lets you spend coins collected in Walmart Land to deck out your avatar with Skullcandy headphones or a Fitbit fitness tracker. In Universe of Play you can race Razor scooters round a track or hang out with PAW Patrol characters. It’s all incredibly basic in terms of graphics and gameplay mechanics, but that’s par for the course for Roblox.

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  • Roblox is ready to grow up

    In-game Roblox High School.

    Image: Roblox

    Roblox rode a wave of pandemic-era growth to a seven-fold value increase, an exploding user base, and a wildly popular Lil Nas X concert with tens of millions of attendees. That success largely all came thanks to Roblox’s core user base of young and highly engaged players.

    Now, those kids are getting older, and Roblox is trying to grow up, too. The all-ages, user-generated gaming platform is announcing plans today to add age guidelines to its games and significantly expand its advertising business as it works to court an older demographic, expand its revenue streams, and still support the needs of its millions of young players.

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Jay Peters