With Roblox’s massive IPO this month, game developers, brands and investors alike are wondering what factors cause the most successful games on this $47 billion platform to break out from the millions of user-generated passion projects.
According to Roblox’s S-1 filing, nearly 250 developers and creators earned $100,000 or more in Robux in the year through September 2020 out of nearly 1 million creators on the platform.
From Gamefam’s first game two years ago that topped out at only 25 concurrent players to our current portfolio with 2 million to 3 million daily visits, our team learned to develop on Roblox the hard way — by trial and error and by getting better at listening to the Roblox community’s unique gamer culture and vernacular.
Even the most experienced and talented game designers from the mobile F2P business usually fail to understand what features matter to Robloxians.
For those entrepreneurs just starting their journey in Roblox game development, these are the most common mistakes I have seen gaming professionals (myself included) make on Roblox:
1. Using the established free-to-play (F2P) mobile game mechanics
In the F2P mobile games market, it’s all about layered game loops: play a match with the hero, level the hero up using resources from the match, buy more heroes to merge with the first hero, open up new matches with new rules to win more resources, and on and on. These require ongoing player tutorials across hours of play sessions. These mechanics tend to backfire on Roblox because players have no tolerance for anything but immediate, visceral fun.
Accordingly, in mobile F2P, a robust tutorial for new users is oftentimes one of the biggest investments during development. But in our Roblox game Speed Run Simulator (more than 400,000 daily visits), we saw a significant increase in D1 retention when we removed the tutorial entirely and just allowed existing players to guide new players’ understanding of the game. The differences between Roblox and mobile F2P are not only numerous but also sometimes profoundly counterintuitive.
2. Optimizing to make money off of “whales”
Roblox players spend because they’re getting something they want. They won’t be cajoled or coerced into spending like in a mobile game where progress is restricted or slowed without making an in-app purchase (think Candy Crush).