I’m turning into a gaming dinosaur at 31 years of age after all. I haven’t played Minecraft for ages, and I never cared for Fortnite and Roblox I didn’t even have Roblox on my radar. But Roblox has recently reached 100 million monthly players, beating both the legendary Sandbox and the current Battle Royale Champ.
Sometimes it’s incredible how robust these internet bubbles are and even let you overlook the absolute gaming high flyer. But it also shows that I’m not the only one. Almost everyone I’ve told about it had similarly little to do with the term. Have you heard of Roblox? Some of it. But hardly anybody in my circle of acquaintances was able to assign the game metaphorically. They pulled out their smartphones, looked to see what it was – and pulled a face.
What exactly is Roblox?
However, Roblox enjoys enormous popularity, especially in the USA, and appeals to a predominantly young target group. It is a sandbox game, which is more of a platform for games. There are features from social networks like friend lists, you can chat, and Roblox gives you tools to create your games in the game. These can be racing games, but also role-playing games or simulations. Quasi a “Second Life” that is more oriented towards children.
With Theme Park Tycoon, for example, there is a game that is entirely in the tradition of the park simulators Theme Park and Rollercoaster Tycoon. In Jailbreak, on the other hand, players slip into the roles of police officers and prisoners. The prisoners have to escape from the police—quasi robbers and gendarme, only with car theft, helicopters, and also plenty of weapons. Roblox also makes racing games inspired by Mario Kart possible. The Roblox Studios sets almost no limits to the creative possibilities.
But I find it hard to get used to the look. The figures remind me of Lego, but the style doesn’t look as harmonious as with the cult blocks. But the game is now 13 years old and had its big breakthrough comparatively late.
Child’s play with shooters and microtransactions
Roblox is not a children’s game in itself but above all a huge playground where almost everything is possible. But exactly these possibilities also have their pitfalls: Baller games, hackers, flirt attempts, Nazi groups, and other contents that are not necessarily suitable for children. However, there is the possibility to limit an account in advance to games verified by Roblox. The chat function can also be restricted. In reality, however, most kids create their accounts and will do the devil of limiting their freedom voluntarily.
Then there is also the business model that relies entirely on micro-transactions. Although both Roblox and its games are free, game developers can include microtransactions in their games. These are bought with the game currency Robux Generator, with which you can also buy collectibles, clothes, and more in the shop – also mostly created by users. The currency can, of course, not only be earned in the game but also bought for real money, in packages of up to 100 dollars for 10,000 Robux. Besides free or cheap shirts for 5 Robux, I have also seen some for 60,000 Robux in the shop. Or a face for 80,979 Robux in resale? Limited to 2,500 pieces, something like this becomes a famous collector’s item.
Every generation its games
I have to admit: even now that I’ve dealt with Roblox, it doesn’t speak to me that way at all. Neither the design nor the fiddly looking games in the controls convince me. But if I honestly reflect, Minecraft, in its original version, wasn’t beautiful either. The power and depth of Minecraft’s game mechanics are anything but the Holy Grail of gambling, even with mods. Nevertheless, I loved the game, especially in its early access, and spent countless hours in it.
And even if the security for children is also a sticking point and without a particular account children may end up in inappropriate games or are addressed by perverts in the chat, I have to put it into perspective here as well. I also played games like Counter-Strike and GTA when the youth release spoke against it. I also had the luck or bad luck that in my youth, the chat Knuddels was popular – and also hotly disputed because of cyber-grooming. At Roblox, there is at least the possibility of creating accounts with limited possibilities. But resourceful kids will hardly let themselves be restricted there.
The business model also pissed me off. As with almost all free games, Roblox tries to reach into the pockets of its players by allowing them to buy the valuable game currency. I find this borderline, especially with games whose players are mainly minors. On the other hand: What didn’t I put my pocket money into Panini stickers and Pokémon cards. It was nothing more than Lootboxes in many games.
But even though I’m not fascinated by Roblox, and I’m not a fan of the business model, the creative diversity of the games is still impressive. It’s somewhere between Minecraft and Second Life and hits the nerve of the young players – even though Roblox is older than many of its players. That, in itself, is a remarkable achievement.