Imagination platform Roblox has announced new virtual reality capabilities that make the tech more accessible to a wide range of people.
Online gaming has been around for quite some time, but few MMO’s (massive multiplayer online) can boast of device ubiquity—that is, games whose content can be transferred from one console to another. As new worlds are brought to life, avatars evolve and virtual universes deepen with user-generated activity, it makes sense that gamers want to take their experience mobile or change their gameplay altogether by interfacing with multiple devices (like Nintendo Switch!). As such, imagination platform Roblox is at the forefront of this device-agnostic movement, with a growing community of upwards of 30 million monthly active players creating and learning together online.
Having recently announced the launch of Roblox on Oculus Rift headsets, the company continues to initiate new systems into its dynamic platform. To better understand how the company manages to juggle between these disparate systems—each with differing technical requirements and capabilities—while maintaining a unified brand throughout each experience, we sat down with co-founder and CEO David Baszucki in an exclusive interview.
“All of our platforms, including VR, are available for every user to use as they wish. By default, we allow all developers, whether they’re part of our Builders Club or not, to publish their experiences to the cloud so that it is playable across any device, including PC, Mobile, Tablet, Xbox One and VR. Our efforts are currently focused on two areas: clients optimized for premium, PC- and console-coupled VR hardware and mobile VR experiences,” said Baszucki.
According to him, while the company’s mobile efforts are certainly constrained by the technical specifications of available hardware, Roblox’s long-term goal is to become the world’s premier platform both for publishing and consuming VR game experiences. As of September, the company has paid out a total of $7 million USD to community developers, signed 8 million new users every month through word-of-mouth alone and has logged nearly 5billion hours of total gameplay. Therefore, while Roblox definitely has competition in this new space, its aspirations aren’t as farfetched as one would presume.
And though the company’s success is owed in part to the sheer volume of user-generated content, the real driving force comes from the foresight to integrate new technologies before they ever hit mainstream adoption. From tablets to the cloud to VR, Roblox is easily accessed throughout all of its touchpoints and can run on a powerful computer with a glowing keyboard and expensive gaming mouse, or a touchscreen with a pocket sized device with limited space.
The technical variety exemplified by the platform is mirrored by the diversity of experiences: players can embody dinosaurs, miners, astronauts and a wide range of personas as they explore uncharted territories with various rules, interactions and physics. The most popular of these experiences tend to offer high levels of player-to-player interaction, afforded by developers who set out to augment how two or more individuals mingle within their level designs.
“User Generated Content (UGC) platforms, like Roblox, are carving a new niche in virtual reality gaming called ‘social co-experience.’ As virtual reality matures, the social co-experience genre will become the dominant category on VR, ultimately surpassing video games. Everything that we do today and in the future will adhere to our vision of driving social immersion and co-experience, powered by user-generated content. As the market for VR headsets matures and as we expand to new platforms, you’re going to see Roblox become more immersive as environments look increasingly real over time,” said Baszucki.
As a platform with seemingly infinite possibilities—both for what you choose to play and how you choose to play it—Roblox is redefining gaming, learning and communication in the 21st century. Environments, rules and interactions are easily built with the company’s level editor, which explains why users of all ages have experimented with creating their own worlds (even though Roblox targets children primarily).
“Our vision at Roblox is to fulfill a core human need that not only involves communication and storytelling, but most importantly, doing things together. That’s why the vast majority of our most popular games tend to be social experiences, where users are hanging out in a virtual club, exploring, or building with their friends. We are creating the future of play. Our vision is to empower the imagination of kids of all ages so that they are encouraged to create and think outside of the box without boundaries or limits,” said Baszucki.