I’ve long been wary of letting my kids play Roblox because of fears over its community and moderation, along with the fact that I just don’t think its floaty physics and hideous player models are any good. I can now add “a ghastly player economy” to my list of grievances.
The latest excellent video from People Make Games is a deep dive into the money and the content that’s propping the platform—the most popular video game destination in both the US and Europe—up, and having only known a few of these things at a casual level, the deeper reality is downright shocking.
In short, Roblox is a $45 billion company whose success is built almost entirely off the spending habits and work of children, who see little to no reward for their efforts. The way kids are lured into creating content for the site with promises of making money, the way they have almost zero chance of those games ever making a cent, the way games that do make a few bucks still won’t pay a cent to their creators unless they make over $1000, it all sucks!
But that’s capitalism, baby. The shadiest thing here, though, are the layers upon layers that Roblox drapes over this economy so that it’s shittiness is never wholly apparent to the user, and can instead only be glanced at the edges, or encountered only when you run into any of its particular issues one at a time.
If you’ve got kids and want to learn more, or would just like to be floored by the realisation that Roblox’s company is worth as much as seven Ubisofts, you can check out the video below. And for more on that stuff I mentioned up top about Roblox’s community, which has become a “playground for virtual fascists”, you can read this feature on Wired from earlier in the year.