David Baszucki, founder and CEO of Roblox, presents at the Roblox Developer Conference on August 10, 2019 in Burlingame, California.
Ian Tuttle | Getty Images
Roblox, the popular kids gaming platform, is looking to bolster revenue by giving a wider swath of users the ability to create and sell more types of digital goods.
The company said on Friday that subscribers to the Roblox app’s upper-tier premium plans, which give users a monthly allowance of the Robux digital currency, will be able to hawk their 3D goods to other users. Previously, Roblox gamers could only create and sell 2D goods like virtual clothing and were required to apply and win approval to be part of the company’s user-generated content (UGC) program in order to do the same with 3D assets.
“Now you have the marketplace open to everybody, and you will have the opportunity to have a lot of creation on the platform,” Manuel Bronstein, Roblox’s chief product officer, said in an interview with CNBC. “We know that with increased creation comes more engagement and more users.”
Roblox went public in 2021 with a market cap of $38 billion and investor excitement surrounding the company’s digital universe that consisted of people interacting and playing games with one another while participating in a discrete economy. But revenue growth has slowed dramatically, falling to 15% year over year in the latest quarter from over 100% during several periods in 2021.
The stock plunged 72% last year, and Roblox’s market cap has shrunk to around $18 billion.
Roblox’s latest announcement is tied to its annual developer conference, which is being held in San Francisco.
The company primarily generates revenue from the sales of Robux. When customers use the currency to buy virtual items within games, Roblox shares 30% of the revenue with the game developer. The company started offering online ads earlier this year as a way to expand its business.
By allowing Roblox users to create and sell 3D goods, the company could gain more paid subscribers who are willing to spend money for that feature. Although users, who must provide photo identification, will have to pay a fee of 750 Robux to upload 3D accessories and clothing to the marketplace, they will be able to submit their custom 3D bodies and heads for digital avatars for free. Users pay $105 for 30,000 Robux.
Developers who build custom video games on Roblox will also be able to use new coding tools that can help them create interactive experiences intended to foster more communication between users, such as digital phone booths that people can use to call their Roblox friends.
The new coding tools are part of a suite of communications-focused services called Roblox Connect, which Bronstein said will let users make real-life phone calls to their friends and family within the platform as long as everyone has an account.
An example of a Roblox user making a phone call to another user with the Roblox Connect technology.
Roblox developers will also be able to use new coding tools later this year intended to help them create subscription-based services for their in-platform games and experiences. A company spokesperson said it will charge developers a 30% platform fee for the subscriptions.
Bronstein said the subscriptions tools will give developers a way to generate recurring revenue from their biggest fans, who they can entice with items like a new virtual shirt every week.
“Creators are going to be able to define the benefits of the subscription,” he said. “We’re going to have to set up price points that they can use to price the subscriptions, and they are going to start earning in a recurring fashion as users subscribe.”
The company is also debuting a digital assistant intended to help Roblox users more easily create content in the online universe by using a more conversational approach, similar to artificial intelligence tools like OpenAI’s ChatGPT.
“You can see an interface where I can input information to the assistant saying I want to create a column that is as high as a human, and suddenly you’re going to see it on the screen,” Bronstein said. “As you’re seeing on the screen, you can actually have feedback back and forth, so that you can say, ‘No, make it taller or make it shorter,’ and you’re going to see the reaction right away, so the process becomes a lot faster, visual, intuitive and you’re using natural language, which is, for a lot more people, more accessible than code.”
Roblox said its app will be available this month to all users of the Meta Quest virtual reality headset, after the app was originally released via a test in July. Sony PlayStation console users will also be able to access Roblox on their devices in October.