I didn’t think I’d be back so soon writing “Roblox” and “this is why we can’t have nice things” in the same post two days in a row, but here we are. People Make Games has put out a video confirming everything you already suspected about the game: that it’s overvalued and grotesquely exploitative.
In the video, Quintin Smith argues that Roblox isn’t all that different from a gaming platform like Steam in that it’s a hosting platform for games. The difference is that those games (“experiences”) are built by literal children. But as with many other platforms, the discoverability on a platform with 20 million minigames is terrible, so Roblox invites these children to pay it to promote their game. This is gross all by itself, but it gets worse, since almost no creators are actually making money off the game, and those rare kids who do are paid in in-game currency, and they can’t convert it into actual cash unless they pay for a monthly sub and meet the minimum $900 threshold. And then even when they withdraw Robux worth $900, Roblox only pays out $350 for it, which essentially means players get next to nothing of what they earned thanks to all the conversions and cuts – less than 17 cents on the dollar.
Smith notes that this withdrawal minimum is arbitrary and points to Second Life and Entropia Universe as having low and reasonable amounts by comparison. (Hell, Roblox makes Entropia look wholesome.) He characterizes Roblox as essentially an exploitative “company town” – only the workers are kids, and the kids are literally being subjected to crunch and burnout, according to one Roblox creator who needed to stay anonymous to protect his/her income from the company’s ire, which is a whole ‘nother problem.
Of course, Roblox isn’t just scamming kids; since going public and bizarrely being valued at $41B (more than Electronic Arts, or seven Ubisofts), it’s now posted two financial reports in a row claiming losses around $140M per quarter, presumably burning cash to keep roping in users/workers and then turning out its pockets when people wonder why they’re not getting paid.
Eventually, regulation will curb these abuses as it did in other sectors, but in the meantime, dear god don’t let your kids near this.