Roblox allegedly gaming kids
The Future. A report by People Make Games claims that popular game-creation platform Roblox is exploiting the teenage developers who make most of their content. With lopsided revenue-share contracts and unfair transaction rates, Roblox may soon find itself in legal hot water as its explosive growth doesn’t line up with proper payouts.
On Roblox, the kids may not be alright.
A report called “How Roblox is Exploiting Young Game Developers” by People Make Games — a YouTube channel run by independent game journalists — alleges that Roblox uses its mostly-young user base for low-pay game development and a pay system that discourages them from withdrawing funds.
- Refresher: Roblox Studio (the game-creation engine) allows users over the age of 13 to make money by creating games and experiences in Roblox.
- The Developer Exchange Program (DevEx) gives developers only a 25% cut of game revenue (making the App Store and Google Play Store look like saints).
- Roblox says it takes such a big cut because it provides “server space, marketplace infrastructure, [and] cross-platform capability.”
Withdrawing funds is also convoluted and money-losing. Developers can’t withdraw earnings until they’ve reached 100K Robux (the game’s currency). But, while 100K Robux costs $1K to purchase, selling 100K Robux back to Roblox in order to cash out only nets developers $350 — on top of a $5 monthly fee for the Premium Subscription that makes game creation possible.
People Make Games conclude that the unfair revenue share and hefty transaction costs undercut naive teenage developers and encourage them to spend the money on Roblox instead of withdrawing earnings for real cash.
For its part, Roblox says the criticism is unfair. It noted that in the first quarter of 2021, it paid $129.7 million to developers, with 600 developers earning over $85,000/year and some top developers earning $2 million/year. But with the $45 billion company earning $454 million in revenue just last quarter from a user base of 43 million, those payouts may still not be quite enough.