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Roblox: the trending lovechild of Minecraft and LittleBigPlanet

The user-generated content-focussed game had 161,200 users logging in at its peak, with its livestream Twitch channel growing at an alarming rate

By Jonathan Toyad

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You’ve heard of sandbox create-a-thon games like Minecraft and Sony Computer Entertainment’s own LittleBigPlanet, with the former still on the pedestal of the most-played PC game across the world, including Southeast Asia. However, what would happen if you combine the two?

You get Roblox, a supposedly-unknown free-to-play title with its own growing fanbase.

Imagine if you have the simple and concept-level aesthetics of Minecraft with the build-your-own mechanics of LittleBigPlanet; that’s Roblox for you. Everything from its easy-to-learn-but-hard-to-master toolset to its user-generated games are all run from your browser. Even if you have no game idea to create, you can still play a robust number of user-created titles like Adventure Forward: Star Savior, War Tycoon and Cart Ride Tycoon Through a Scary Cave. The last one’s a mouthful.

The game had 161,200 concurrent players logged in simultaneously at its peak. That’s higher than the numbers on Valve’s zombie co-op shooter Left 4 Dead (161,000), though slightly lower than tactical shooter Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (170,000). Since its 2005 debut, the game is still growing bit by bit, with the developers going so far as to compare its numbers with Valve’s distribution service Steam.

Lo and behold, a statistics chart to show which user-made game’s the most popular:

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Here’s another chart of the hours spent on Roblox. It’s not bad, considering that games like DOTA 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive would be hard to overtake.

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So why these high numbers? While Roblox is targeted at gamers between 8 to 18 years of age, older players with creative sparks are also drawn to it. The game’s philosophy is that a member will start off as a player, but has the potential to be a creator. In short, people love to create stuff when given a robust toolset that’s also a game in itself.

A Venturebeat interview with Roblox CEO Dave Baszucki stated that the typical player spends more than 15 hours a week on the game, most likely due to its intuitive nature. “Since Roblox isn’t just about designing and coding and playing games — but is also a creative and social outlet for our builders and players — our community happily spends a lot of time here.”

Baszucki said that Roblox’s growing numbers is attributed to word of mouth. “Friends telling friends, social media, and videos all contribute to this. Our Twitch channel is one of the fastest growing channels, and we trended top 10 across the US and Canada on Twitter during our online fan convention on YouTube last September.”

The introduction of its Developer Exchange programme gives a huge incentive for more people to create games on the platform; it rewards the creators with cash if the games they make are popular. Baszucki said that some of its users have made more than US$10,000 and has given Roblox a lot more attention.

Will 2014 be the year of Roblox amidst the worldwide gaming landscape that’s plastered with heavy hitters from Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo? Who knows, but it seems that the seemingly little company is gaining momentum with its push towards user-generated content.