The Roblox Corporation announced today the launch of their sandbox game-creation MMO on the Xbox One.
Targeted at younger players ages 8-18, Roblox lets players become creators, giving them the chance to use the game’s assets and servers to make their very own games, which now can be played on the Xbox One. It’s already available on PC, Mac, iOS, and Android.
“We have six million monthly active users,” said Rick Silvestrini, Roblox’s chief marketing officer. “What we want to become is the ‘YouTube of video gaming.’”
“All content is created by the community,” he explained. “Instead of ‘user-generated’ content, we like to say it’s ‘community-generated.’”
The Xbox One launch brings controller support to Roblox for the first time, along with some tweaks to the game’s user interface. It’ll ship with 25 titles, but players will be able to browse from thousands of creations from the Roblox community.
“Xbox has one of the most high-value, passionate audiences on any platform anywhere,” Silvestrini said, explaining the decision to expand to the platform. “They tend to play more games, for more hours per week than almost any other ecosystem.”
Silvestrini explained that a major advantage for first-time game creators is the fact that all Roblox content is hosted server-side, so designing multiplayer games is more or less automatic – Roblox hosts and streams content to everyone connected, so there’s no netcode for young developers to worry about: they can focus on their games.
The Roblox team showed Gameranx a few of the games the Xbox One edition will include out of the box. One is Heroes!, a dungeon-crawler using the trademark Roblox blocky art style in a distinctly Diablo or Zelda real-time hack-and-slash game. The game supports co-op play for up to five players.
The kicker? It was created by a self-taught 19-year-old designer named David Narkkala. It took him about eight weeks to make, Silvestrini said. Narkkala designed the game specifically to work on mobile devices.
In another game, Super Bomb Survival, up to eight players dash around an arena as bombs and other items fall from the sky. You have to avoid the explosives, but can pick up unexploded bombs and toss them at other players, all the while gathering guffins to use to buy powerups between rounds. The last player standing wins. This one was created by 20-year-old Tyler McBride.
Roblox allows creators to use microtransactions in their games, too – you can build purchasable powerups and items into your games, and Roblox shares the revenues from this with the game creators. McBride has been so successful in this that building Roblox games is now his full time job, Silvestrini said.
But Silvestrini hastened to add that microtransactions are completely optional.
“We never force monetization,” he said. “It’s something that’s there if you want to use it.”
Roblox has also matched some of its creators with valuable brand deals. Disney Infinity is sponsoring some of the platform’s hottest games for promotion – a very big deal for a first-time game developer still in high school.
Silvestrini said the company has also been looking into creating tools for educators using Roblox.
“We’re kind of a ‘stealth education company,’” he said. The Bay Area company worked this summer with the San Mateo Boys & Girls Club to create an eight-week summer camp course on basic game design.
“We’re working with experts, with teachers and summer camp counselors,” he said. “We’re looking to push a scalable curriculum out later this fall.”
For now, though, he said, there are already a ton of resources available for first-time game designers, and appropriately, it’s mostly user-generated: the Roblox forums, wiki, and developer community have become incredibly robust, he said.
“We’re really trying to be the place where you create your first game,” Silvestrini said.
And now, that first game will be available on Xbox One.