The user-generated content platform Roblox is out on Xbox One right now. We got a chance to sit down with Roblox CEO, David Baszucki, to discuss bringing this type of experience to Xbox One, what players can expect from the servic, and how it compares to other user-generated content experiences.
Hardcore Gamer: So break down Roblox. What is it? What platforms is it already on?
David Baszucki: We’re really building something at the nexus of the future of entertainment. Roblox is an immersive, social online destination where people experience things in environments created by the community. We have over 15 million people visiting Roblox every month, and right now we’re on PC, Mac, iOS and Android devices. Xbox One will be our first console platform.
What makes Roblox so special compared to other user-generated experiences?
Our big picture vision is creating the ultimate place for you and your friends to go and experience just about anything you can imagine. When you play Roblox today there are literally millions of immersive 3D experiences where you and your friends can do everything from pretending your working in a pizza parlor, to being a top fashion model, to surviving a natural disaster, to doing something more traditional like playing paintball. What’s cool about it is all Roblox experiences are accessible from multiple devices. For example, you can play on your phone against your friend on a computer. Xbox will be running all the exact same Roblox experiences you can find on other platforms, but with an Xbox One Controller.
Initially there will be 15 free games, and that’s primarily just to push forward a really tight collection of super special, popular games from our community. Over time, though, more and more of what’s available on Roblox will be opened up on Xbox One. Ultimately you’ll be able to play the millions of games and experiences created by the community.
What are some of the titles coming Day One?
Bird Simulator, Dodgeball, Tiny Tanks, Natural Disaster Survival, Coalesce, and Speedrun are some of the games coming at launch. We have all genres really.
When can players expect to get additional content?
More and more will come out very quickly in the next few months after we launch.
And players will be able create their own content on Xbox One for others to play?
That’s exactly right. You can imagine very shortly after launch you’ll be able to go on Roblox, make something interesting, push it through our Roblox Cloud, and that experience will be playable on Xbox One right alongside all the other platforms.
We’ve seen a few publishers experiment with their own user-generated content platforms. Sony has LittleBigPlanet, and Microsoft purchased Minecraft last year. How does Roblox, as a user-generated content platform, compare to these games?
I think it’s actually way more expansive than LittleBigPlanet. LittleBigPlanet is like a side-scroller 2D overlaid on top of 3D. Roblox is really a full 3D experience in an immersive environment, and is 100% user-generated content, and unlike Minecraft, where the content tends to be voxel-based terrain or mods, all Roblox content runs on all devices. It’s not just voxel-based, so there’s a little more moving content and a lot more fidelity. So I really think we’re going beyond both Minecraft and LittleBigPlanet.
Roblox is obviously a Free-to-Play game so I imagine there is some form of microtransactions? How do they impact the experience? Would you say that Roblox is still free?
A: There is and it works very elegantly because it’s always free. What happens is that in many of the Roblox experiences, the developers make something interesting enough that you may want to spend some virtual currency in that experience. For example, Bird Simulator is free, super popular, and a biologically accurate 3D experience. You get to be a bird and hunt and try and survive. What happens in the game is that if you want to jump forward and become an eagle, for example, you need to spend some Robux. The developer themselves has found a way to monetize the game. Our players can choose to purchase Robux and use them in these games.
Is it possible to play without spending real-world money?
Very much. The majority of Roblox players are playing for free.
This is absolutely critical, because it’s just like when you’re on a social network. You are invested in the identity of your presence. It’s very similar on Roblox where you have friends, groups, and people you play with. If we were to go on Xbox One and sever that it would be disastrous. So yes, your Roblox presence will be carried across all devices.
Do you see Roblox as a user-generated content pioneer?
I think we’re pushing the wave. I think there’s a big convergence going on here between various types of entertainment. User-generated content is really an engine to drive piles of interesting content with super long-tail. So, I think user-generated contest isn’t just what Roblox is. We think of it as the engine that drives it, but complemented by providing super immersive, in the cloud special experiences. Whatever you and your friends want to explore, you’re most likely going to find that on Roblox.
Logical platforms, which we won’t announce today, include Wii U, PlayStation 4, Apple TV, Gear VR, Oculus Rift, and Valve’s set-top box.
What about PS Vita and 3DS? PS Vita does, after all, have its own version of Minecraft.
I think we’re watching those more conservatively based on numbers and where the futures of phones and tablets are.
When can Xbox One players download and start creating content in Roblox?
Roblox is out today on Xbox One and already available on platforms mentioned above. There will be no retail release whatsoever.