Here are some key links to get under the hood of the Roblox corporation:
Roblox Studio is a 3D video game development platform that is free to download onto a Windows or Mac computer. It is very much like a playground sandbox where creators can build terrains from open savannahs, to volcanic islands, cityscapes and high rise buildings, then click “play” to drop a character into that world and immediately begin playing. Once they have developed their game to a level ready to release, they can then publish that game onto the Roblox website where anyone with an Internet connection can play their game. Roblox itself is not a game – it is a platform on which developers can create, share and play. Imagine a huge, clean playground sandpit that is filled with an immense array of shovels, buckets, molds and models to help kids build amazing imaginary worlds – this is Roblox Studio.
Why do we need to know about Roblox?
Let’s put Roblox in perspective. “As of September 2018, Fortnite had 78.3m[illion] monthly players, while Minecraft exceeded 90m[illion] monthly active users in October 2018. Roblox sits in the middle with 80m[illion] players on the platform each month” (Roblox: The 10bn hour gentle giant, 2019, MCV). The reality is that most people with very little interest in gaming will know about Minecraft and Fortnite but very few will know anything about how big Roblox is. At best, parents may have some notion of what Roblox is if they have seen their children playing games on the platform. Roblox was launched in 2006 which means it has also been around for much longer than Minecraft (released in 2011) and Fortnite (2017).
What is so special about Roblox Studio?
Central to the Roblox Studio experience is community. Far from being an isolating individual pursuit, the core of the Roblox platform is designed to enable developers and creators to connect, share and build ideas together. As the Chief Business Officer Craig Donato emphasises, Roblox is firmly focussed on supporting it’s young user base. While not a heavily promoted polished brand such as Fortnite, Roblox instead distinguishes itself by encouraging a community that supports imagination, creativity and learning. It is very unique in that promotion is largely achieved via word of mouth – kids find out about it through other kids.
Most children know the regular Roblox games (which uses the red icon, figure 3) that they can play on a computer or on the mobile app however not so many know that with Roblox Studio (blue icon, figure 2) they are able to become game developers themselves. Roblox Studio is extremely intuitive to use but not without some occasional glitches. After a quick introduction to the Roblox Studio programme, kids can immediately begin experimenting with the affordances of the programme.
Roblox is squarely focussed on play. “I’d say one of the things that distinguishes Roblox is our mission of bringing the world together through play. And we believe that play, like sleep, is an essential human need. There’s lots of research that shows that play is how we learn to take control of our lives, how to adapt to new challenges, how to collaborate with our peers. And most of all play is also fun, right? It makes them happy. A world at play is better for everyone, not just children. A traditional game has very specific rules, where you have to follow a narrow path, you have to win… That’s not really the experience that you have in Roblox with these wide open worlds that you can just participate in.” – chief business officer, Craig Donato, MCV, 2019.
Games created and published using Roblox Studio can be played across platforms such as Xbox One, PC, Mac, iOS and Android. The Roblox Studio software is a free programme that can be downloaded onto a Mac or Windows computer.
Does Roblox Studio cost anything?
The short answer is – No.
The long answer is – it can. Robux is the virtual currency used in Roblox but it is not necessary to play, build or publish games. This means that Roblox Studio can be used at school and at home entirely without the use of Robux or with the need to pay any money.
Can you earn money developing in Roblox Studio?
The short answer is – there is not short answer.
To earn Robux and gain access to additional features within the Roblox ecosystem (such as going adfree, ability to sell stuff, bonus gear, and trading), developers need to join the Roblox Builders Club for a minimum of $5.95 a month for the basic upgrade. Robux can be earned by non-Builders Club member by creating game passes.
The conclusion here is that for primary students, monetisation is not a goal or a viable option however it is worth knowing that this is far from a niche community. Game development is a very real future pursuit for this generation.
What support does Roblox Studio offer young developers?
Mountains of resources are available for young developers. Take a look at the Gameplay tutorials and see if you are not excited about designing and creating. And if you want to see how deep this rabbit hole goes, have a look at the coding and scripts page. The links at the start of this post provide plenty of information for noobs although the amount of it can be overwhelming.
Roblox Studio makes the initial access easy while also providing almost infinite ways to take your design and creativity very deep.