Roblox is an online gaming platform that allows any user over the age of 13 to develop and play online games. Roblox launched in 2007 and has approximately 178 million accounts and 64 million monthly players. It is reported that more than half of US children have a Roblox account.
Users report Roblox exploits young developers on the platform by misleadingly promising they will be able to earn “serious cash” by developing games for Roblox. Roblox’s website reads “Make Anything. Reach Millions. Earn Serious Cash.” In one case, Roblox heavily marketed one young developer’s story as a success story when in fact the young developer had been pushed out of her own (extremely popular) game with no support or recourse from Roblox. Roblox’s advertising of the opportunity to earn as a developer is exploitative and misleading because it is targeted at children and it is In fact very difficult to make money as a developer for a variety of reasons.
Roblox developers make money by charging for access to their games generally or for access to particular features, “perishable” game items, or avatar clothing. How much money a developer earns depends on the volume of traffic to their game and the volume of subsequent sales. However, with over 20 million games on Roblox, most games are never seen by players. (Only the top 1,000 experiences show up on the website and app, and just the top 200 get featured prominently.) Accordingly, Roblox encourages developers to pay to advertise their games.
If a developer manages to make money, they are paid in Robux, which can be spent on only on the platform. It is estimated that 100,000 Robux equals approximately $350. If users purchase Robux to spend on the platform, the Robux costs $1,000 for 100,000 Robux. Therefore it costs developers more to purchase Robux than they are compensated for development. It is reported that Roblox pays its developers a fraction of what the rest of the gaming industry pays typically.
Users also report that when the Roblox service is down, developers do not receive compensation for developer ad campaigns that may be running. This is a different policy from other platforms like Google, Facebook, or YouTube, and the policy makes monetization even more challenging for young developers.