You may or may not know this, but ROBLOX, the world building and sharing platform with over 120 million registered users and up to 500,000 concurrent players at peak times, is quietly chugging away as one of the largest online user-generated content platforms. In fact, it even predates the game that transcends its medium as one of the most iconic and recognizable brands in the world: Minecraft. ROBLOX launched in 2004, which is a full five years before the first iteration of Minecraft ever found its ways online.
For those paying attention though, they’re actually quite different experiences. Whereas Minecraft is billed as more of a world building platform, I’d describe ROBLOX as being more about creating unique experiences. In a way, it feels like a cross between lite-game development and traditional user-generated content creation.
Now with VR support, ROBLOX is one of the largest social platforms available across the medium. Recently, UploadVR took the chance to catch up with the team and spoke with David Baszucki, CEO of ROBLOX, about what they’re doing to establish the game in the VR space and how they plan to continue evolving into 2017.
UploadVR: Do you have any way of tracking how many people are playing ROBLOX in VR versus not in VR?
UploadVR: How many people have registered accounts for ROBLOX and roughly how many daily active users do you see?
Baszucki: There are over 121 million registered accounts on ROBLOX. Over the course of 2016 so far, our number of daily active users has been rapidly increasing. The average number of daily active user count in the month of June is over 2.5 million.
UploadVR: Since all of the content is playable both in and out of VR, are you noticing any shifts in trends of what people are making? Are more things being created with VR in mind, or are things trending in a similar fashion still?
Baszucki: ROBLOX VR continues to build upon our vision to allow everyone to imagine with their friends in immersive 3D environments. Being inherently social and multiplayer, ROBLOX is a natural fit for VR. As the market matures, we believe that VR will become bigger than gaming and will ultimately incorporate more and more social experiences similar to those you can currently find on ROBLOX.
The top recurring trend we’re seeing is that people want to be able to experience things together, whether that’s imagining they’re a bird, pretending to be a fashion model, or attempting to survive a natural disaster. Over time, more people will want to use VR as a social platform to chat and hang out with their friends. The user-generated content you see on ROBLOX today and beyond will continue to satisfy a core human need to do things together.
UploadVR: What does your roadmap look like for ROBLOX VR going forward? What areas can be improved and which areas do you feel like have been triumphs thus far?
Baszucki: Given our success on Oculus Rift so far, we have plans to expand to additional VR platforms and incorporate hand controllers to further enhance immersion. Nevertheless, we’re really early in the VR lifecycle right now. The hardware is still new, and there are still things we can learn about enhancing comfort for all users. Prior to launching on Oculus Rift, our engineering team made a lot of improvements on our core platform to implement best-in-class character and camera controls for VR. We will continue to optimize these systems over time.
When we shipped on Oculus Rift, all of our games and experiences were immediately playable cross-device right out of the gate. Our cross-platform capabilities and rich, diverse social content is a testament to our vision about the future of VR.
Baszucki: ROBLOX is all about powering the imagination of millions of people around the world. We are creating an ecosystem where, every month, over 15 million users are joining their friends to play, learn, and create together. We are similar to SculptrVR and Vivecraft in that we allow people to build their own content, but that’s where we take it one step further. ROBLOX has a much broader variety of experiences than similar titles on the market, like Minecraft and Second Life. You can play hide and seek with your friends, manage your own pizza restaurant, or hang out in a virtual club. We run all of our servers in the cloud and can have over 500,000 users playing concurrently at peak times across these places.
In addition, a budding game developer who’s interested in trying their hand at creating a ROBLOX experience can use our Studio, create a game, and immediately push it to the cloud so that it’s instantly available on all platforms simultaneously. We are 100% committed to user-generated content driving the success of our platform.
Baszucki: The future of VR will primarily be driven by social apps such as ROBLOX, AltspaceVR, and VRChat. What separates us from similar applications is that our main focus is to satisfy a core human need that not only includes communication and storytelling, but also co-experience. We’re giving players a unique opportunity to imagine with their friends in the most immersive social 3D environments across multiple devices, whether it’s in VR, on desktop, mobile, or Xbox One. When you’re playing tag on ROBLOX or hanging out with your friends in a virtual club, those are all experiences where you’re there to have fun, imagine, and create things together no matter what platform you’re playing on.
Additionally, the same developers who are already building great content on desktop, mobile, or Xbox One, now have an additional avenue to play, share, and even make money in VR by pushing their creation to the cloud. We have an incredibly vibrant community of developers who are eager to build for VR just as they are on other platforms.
UploadVR: What about ROBLOX in VR is particularly unique? How is it more than just a non-VR game adapted to work inside VR headsets?
Baszucki: We’re creating the future of play. Our vision is to empower the imagination of kids and teens so that they are encouraged to create and think outside of the box without boundaries or limits. The emergence of VR allows us to take our vision to the next level.
The level of immersion is really powerful. When you play ROBLOX on a VR headset, it feels as if you’re jumping into a ROBLOX amusement park, where the characters and avatars around you take on real-life proportions and everything feels more tangible, interactive, and social. It’s a whole new level of art form. If I play Bird Simulator in VR, for example, I can actually see and feel the trees go past my head. We have always had this philosophy that if you made an immersive, physically simulated 3D environment and mapped it with best-in-class avatar controls, it would be possible to make 3D virtual experiences available everywhere. We’re excited about our future on VR, especially as the hardware matures and more immersive, high fidelity ROBLOX experiences emerge from our community.