How to Create a Roblox Game for Mobile and Use It to Build Hypotheses?
The Roblox platform gives players complete freedom. For mobile developers, it gives even more – a whole testing ground for market research. Let’s find out how it all works in this article.
Is Roblox the new Minecraft or not?
Journalists often compare Roblox and Minecraft. Both games were meta-universes before the concept even appeared and were discussed in the press. Both games targeted younger audiences and gained acceptance first with them and then scaled into global projects. Also, you can find similar “cube” elements in the visual style, although Minecraft came out three years after Roblox.
The most important difference, which breaks all the similarities – the approach to the players and ways of monetization, but more about it later.
Despite the fact that Roblox is more than 17 years old, the real fame of the platform came in 2018. What exactly influenced the growth of the audience and the company’s earnings is hard to say. On the one hand, the studio has finally upgraded its infrastructure, and the new servers have significantly improved the user experience. Instrument loading became noticeably faster, and the process of creating new games no longer took months of your life. On the other hand, Roblox began to fight player toxicity and made a number of changes to the way chat works. We can also talk about some accumulating effects among Influencers.
While the company’s revenue for all years in 2019 was about $1 billion, the studio earned the same amount in 2020. In 2020, Roblox became the fastest-growing company in the game industry and the 9th fastest-growing company in the world.
If the visual style of the project began with pixel cubes, by 2022 the game engine has evolved to the Sony PlayStation 1 graphics. The entry-level did not increase too much, and the main audience of the project is children. Now the platform hosts more than 20 million games from creators of all ages.
We can say that Roblox’s unique selling proposition sounds like “Earn with us by doing what you love – creating games.
Reasons for Roblox’s popularity
The era of rapid development of the platform began in 2013 with the release of Developer Exchange. Since then, users are not only allowed to create their own games on the Roblox engine, but also to exchange game currency for real money. Now it is also possible to sell various custom effects, item designs, and skins to other users. The platform is also “prone” to the NFT market, but so far the company focuses on the use of internal currency – Robux.
The unique thing about the Roblox universe is that the developers do not create game content at all. Their main task is to organize a comfortable space for players to create and improve the engine.
In addition, developers provide servers, moderation systems, and the development of monetization of user-generated content. All this is completely free*.
*Roblox only takes a 30% commission on all user micro-transactions and promotion fees. Essentially the same percentage is taken by Steam, but it doesn’t provide infrastructure and also requires an upfront fee for the ability to post. There are also paid subscriptions, but regular players can generally do without them. A subscription makes more sense for creators and those who need to withdraw their Robux.
Is a comparison to Minecraft appropriate in this case? Minecraft creators also give full freedom to players, but they produce content themselves and guide players in their adventures, forcing them to explore new horizons. Therefore, the feeling of kinship between these projects is superficial, at the very core – the studios practice completely different approaches. The economic model of Roblox is closer to the Steam store from Valve. In this regard, it will be interesting to take apart the case of Dota 2 and understand how Blizzard has buried its gold mine.
What can we learn from the ancients?
In the mid-2000s, Blizzard’s map editor for Warcraft 3: Frozen Throne was doing roughly what Roblox is doing now. Only without the monetization tools. Nevertheless, it was there that several genres (MOBA, Tower Defense) were born, which later became separate games.
|It’s interesting that the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena genre has long been the sole domain of the PC, and in the mobile industry was represented only by a couple of major titles, such as Vainglory and Fates Forever. While the construction of defensive towers from hordes of enemies immediately came to a mobile, the PC and consoles did not leave a noticeable trace.|
The number of players in Defence of the Ancients (Dota) was growing rapidly, but Blizzard did not notice that the game mod becomes more popular than the game itself and did not support the community and the developer.
Valve noticed this unfairness and offered the creator of the mod, a man nicknamed IceFrog, to roll out the project on their resources. The result of their cooperation was Dota 2, which was released with limited access in 2011. When Dota 2 was distributed not through the system of invites, but as a Free-to-Play project, Blizzard came to its senses and took legal action. The company wanted to take away the name and identity of the characters (appearance, names) because they were preparing their own project, but the court sided with Valve.
Blizzard’s own MOBA project Heroes of the Storm never took off, not because it offered identical mechanics or had any technical problems. On the contrary, many things like the complete lack of chat were appreciated by players because of the super toxic environment in Dota 2. The problem was more about the size of the market divided between League of Legends and Dota 2. Blizzard was just too late. Today Dota 2 is one of the most popular and profitable games for PC, despite the fact that Steam earns mainly on micro-transactions. Last year Valve made $115 million just from Battle Pass sales for TI10, the largest cybersports tournament in the discipline.
From the perspective of game app marketing, IceFrog’s experience has shown that interesting ideas should not stay within the sandbox. Once you get user support, you should always think about how to scale the project so that it does not remain a niche product. Otherwise, the market will quickly become clogged with similar projects, as it was at the beginning of the popularity of MOBA or Battle Royale when Fortnite and PUBG shared the market.
The tip of the iceberg and the Titanic of Roblox
Roblox helps content creators make money from what they love, but there are a few things that call into question the large investment in promotion within the platform.
- Withdrawal is available only with the purchase of a $5 premium subscription.
- The minimum entry threshold for converting them into real currency is one hundred thousand Robux, or ~$1000.
- Purchase and sale of domestic currency are at different rates. Buying 100,000 Robux will cost >$1000. Withdrawing that amount of Robux will turn into ~$350.
- The company strives to keep the Robux inside the platform so that players can spend their earnings to buy custom effects. Today, the currency retention rate is at ~75%.
- Professional developers can’t predict their earnings next month.
- Lack of filters for new projects on the platform and inability to compete for free with popular games.
- Lack of tools to transfer your games to other platforms. Roblox’s content creation system is not compatible with other builders.
- Difficulties with copyrights and related scandals.
Due to the fact that the user agreement does not protect the content created on the platform, more active developers can always be “inspired” or fully adopt mechanics from a fresh game. That’s why Roblox calls games “experiences” to maneuver through copyright law.
The problem that goes hand in hand with copyright is that moderation is not always on the side of the affected people.
The Guardian highlights the case of Anna (name changed), who was invited to participate in the project when she was still in school. Anna almost single-handedly created one of the most popular projects on the platform, but her earnings were not protected by any contract, everything was kept on the honor word of her employers. When they unilaterally decided to cut Anna’s earnings by 40%, she left the project. Since then, any comments from Anna on the forum related to her departure from the project were labeled as ” Stalking”. It was not possible to find support in the community.
It can be challenging to develop a really serious project under such conditions.
Roblox is a unique platform for building hypotheses and getting first feedback on game mechanics that developers want to implement. But the platform can hardly be considered the final form for a really cool idea.
Migration to the App Store and Google Play
SharkBite is one of the most successful games on the Roblox platform. The idea is quite simple: you and your friends can be the crew of a boat and shoot back at a predator or with a small chance of becoming a shark that destroys the players’ ships. The developer made $500 million on the platform in 2021, an astounding success since only a thousand games out of 20 million made more than $30,000 that year.
Regan Green, another developer of games on the Roblox platform, faced with the problem of copyright and unfair payment shared a comment:
I didn’t reach out to Roblox themselves about it, because even then I knew about how unhelpful they were for their developers…Things like developer credit and fair pay just aren’t their problems to deal with, I guess.”
The number of dissatisfaction with this situation is growing, so journalists are increasingly talking about Roblox as a machine for the exploitation of child labor. The problem is not limited to copyrights. It is hard for young developers to understand the pitfalls of working in such projects, or to see the legal details in contracts when in principle they are signed.
The situation with withdrawal fees does not suit serious developers, who invest a lot of money in the promotion and creation of games on the platform.
Parallel to this, the trend of reworking game apps from Roblox for iOS and Android is becoming a real trend for a number of reasons:
- The policy of the mobile App Store and Google Play is largely aimed at supporting new projects. There are systems for boosting new products, and getting them featured among similar and popular apps.
- The App Store and Google Play work not only with paid promotion but also with organic promotion – App Store Optimization (ASO).
- It’s not just the kids’ audience. Developers are moving projects from Roblox in favor of an audience that is responsible for its own credit cards.
- Flexible options for user behavior analytics.
- Planning horizon driven by transparent revenue models.
- More opportunities to monetize your own content.
- Opportunity to contact users through pushes and in-game messages.
Probably the most significant difference in the promotion of game apps on Roblox and in the app stores is the ability to optimize and get stable organic traffic. In Roblox, the game creator literally pays for each new user.
It is worth noting that gaming apps get a lot of organic traffic because user habits are shaped to search by genre or similar.
Roblox’s app search system practically ignores the appearance of new projects because the algorithms stack them at the end of the 20 million list. ASO allows the app to tune in to its target audience even before release by selecting relevant semantics.
Checkaso has a tool for keyword research that helps to find perfect search queries. You can get the most successful combination of words.
Getting featured is a really powerful tool that often involves a manual moderation step, so it’s worth preparing your app for it thoroughly. The selection system allows even new apps to get explosive traffic. Read our article on how to prepare for getting featured. The traffic boost is worth it.
Conducting ASO is an iterative process, but the results and traffic gains are visible at every stage. Analytical systems help evaluate the success of promotion and show growth areas so that you can outrun your competitors. Plus, the method itself is suitable for novice developers, because it does not require serious expenses. It is possible to invest thousands of dollars in Roblox but still remain at the same level of popularity.
Related trend: cross platforming
League of Legends, the MOBA game that we talked about above when we looked at the case of Blizzard and IceFrog, not only has a PC version but is also available on mobile devices. Riot Games took a long time to get to this product, but the implementation has not failed and the project has received +70 million players on mobile devices by 2021.
This is a great indicator, but the company had to completely redesign the combat system, which greatly accelerated the matches. The decision is dictated by the fact that gaming sessions on mobile devices are much shorter, for example, people often play on transport or lines.
At the same time, Roblox does not limit users to using a PC as the only gaming device. It is not possible to create games on mobile devices.
Minecraft, Genshin Impact, PUBG, and Among Us went the other way and developed a system of cross-platform gameplay. This not only allowed players to use their accounts from different devices and detached them from local use but also allowed them to team up with people from “other” worlds.
This mechanic allows players to stay within their platform, rather than changing it for the sake of communicating with friends or exclusive content. The trend goes in the opposite direction from the isolation that Roblox demonstrates in terms of transferring internal projects to third-party services.
The Roblox platform has taken an important place in the education of young developers. By studying applications, you can not only get inspired but also launch your own hypothesis without much investment. It is not possible to do without investments at all, since the system ignores the possibilities of organic promotion with the help of algorithms.
The example of IceFrog and the migration of his idea into a separate project from the map editor for Warcraft 3 is the most telling story in this regard.
Transferring an idea from Roblox and creating your own app for Android or iOS can seem like a more expensive project, but the opportunities open to developers make up for the risks.
The key in this sense is the possibility of long-term planning and understanding of how much revenue the app can bring in the next month or quarter.
We’re always happy to help you promote your app. How can we do it?
- CheckMyAso is a free tool for analyzing the quality of your app’s ASO.
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- Checkaso consulting service: in case you need quick and reliable results. We’ll promote your app on the App Store, Google Play, and AppGallery.