66: How This User-Generated Video Game Is Leading The Way With Innovation and VR
Tonight we have David Baszucki, the founder, and co-creator of ROBLOX on the show. Anyone with kids will probably know the game very well. But for those that don’t ROBLOX is a game that boasts over nine million monthly active users. Over two billion hours have been played since 2008 and to top it off they have more than a 50 percent year over year increase in revenue. They are on a mission to be the global leader in user-generated gaming and creation for all ages, incorporating new platforms and fresh, exciting ideas from the gaming community every day. It’s a fantastic game. I’ve watched my son play it since he was 7 and he’s now 15.
For those who haven’t heard of ROBLOX can you give them the lowdown on this game?
When we started ROBLOX we had a vision of creating the ultimate place where friends could gather to socialize, hang out, imagine, role play and really live out their imaginations together. We’ve stayed on that path through today. Every month more than 50 million come to ROBLOX and play a user-created adventure. Gamers find themselves working at a restaurant or pretending they are birds together, possibly trying to survive a tornado with friends or any kind of obstacle or traditional game you might find.
Was the freedom to build something unique a big part of your vision for the game?
It really was. When we started out the idea was if we build this immersive 3D sandbox that’s multiplayer and runs across all devices and is safely and appropriately moderated we’re going to get an amazing amount of content. We’re big fans of Mine Craft and we’re especially fans of the whole UGC sector which is where ROBLOX is focused.
Another aspect I love is that mobile players join the same game service as desktop players, connecting users across devices in that shared virtual world. Was that hard to achieve and do the experiences differ at all?
It was an amazing amount of technical work. We started as a PC Mac company. At the highest levels, we know there is a certain commonality with 3D immersive experiences. We want something where you and your friends can have an avatar, we want an interactive physically simulated environment and we had the vision from day one that we had to bring that to IOS and Android phones.
As a tech guy who thinks tech works best when it brings people together what I love about ROBLOX is how it blends together learning, communication, and the latest technology advancements such as virtual reality. That cutting edge platform allows people of all ages to create fun, imaginative experiences for the entire world to enjoy. Again was that your intention or did you stumble on it by accident?
In my prior company, I made educational software. We made physics simulation software. We saw when kids shared their creations how excited they got. We were inspired because kids would take our 2D physics simulator and make things like buildings falling down and car wrecks.
When we started ROBLOX, even from that early inkling this combination of 3D construction, social and games all coming together was right in our very first business plan.
You’re now making waves by progressing into virtual reality. Can you tell my listeners a little about this and how that’s going to work?
Our vision is being social and playing with friends in an immersive environment that transports people to their imagination. When you look to virtual reality it does something very well and that is it ups the immersion level. The very first time I wore a VR headset and played some old ROBLOX content I’ve known for 6-8 years it was like going to a ROBLOX amusement park rather than playing ROBLOX on my computer.
Do you think VR will play a big role in social networks too? Is the future of VR really social?
When you think about what a social network is, it’s a way for people to experience things together. It just so happens that right now those experiences are predicated on sharing. In VR and ROBLOX the sharing is at a deeper level than it is on Facebook. We’re not just sharing photos we’re at the Grand Canyon together or in the spaceship together. In that sense yes the future of social networks is taking that sharing to a place that really transports you. 3D immersion like you have in ROBLOX is going in that direction.
How do you guys make money from this free game?
What’s really interesting about ROBLOX is we’ve stayed true to the notion that this is a user generated content platform and it’s powered by the ROBLOX community. Our monetization is primarily driven by the creators on ROBLOX. We have given them the tools in ROBLOX experiences for those who are interested to use virtual currency.
What’s next for ROBLOX?
You’re going to see some very innovative chat technology that’s going to make it easier for people when they are mobile to play games. You will see some cool things on the VR side that’s going to make it easy for someone in VR to have a good conversation with someone on a phone or computer.
What’s the best way of finding out more and reaching out to you guys?
Go to www.roblox.com or go to the app store and search for ROBLOX. If you go to Xbox you will see ROBLOX is in the top download. You can find us on any device.
Please also see check my related article from my INC column: How This User-Generated Video Game Is Leading The Way With Innovation and VR