Ask any 10-year old what they did during the pandemic, and they will likely give you a consistent answer: Roblox, a fast-growing video game service. Roblox is launching its shares publicly on Wednesday.
Roblox is a popular place for children 13 years and under to get together online, even though it lacks cutting-edge graphics. Roblox claims that three-quarters of U.S. children aged 9-12 use the platform not only to play but also to share their skills and chat.
Roblox also offers free software that allows users to create new games. Up to 8 million users have already used Roblox.
The company, which is now seventeen years old, plans to go public with a direct listing of shares. Investors are most excited about the Roblox deal in 2021 because of its rapid growth and strong gaming brand.
Roblox will face many challenges in the coming years as the gaming market becomes more saturated. Microsoft’s Minecraft offers a similar service to allow kids to create their own games. Unity Software, on the other hand, provides tools that can be used for creating games across multiple platforms.
Roblox may be financially squeezed if Apple or Google, on whom it relies for the distribution of its mobile app–demand a larger share of its mobile gaming revenues. This danger is unlikely in the near term due to the current federal antitrust scrutiny by the tech giants. But it could return down the line.
Roblox games can be played for free, but you can make in-app purchases to purchase items that you will need to play the game, such as a magic sword or fast car. You can also create virtual gear for your avatars and then sell them to other users. Robux, the company’s digital currency, is used for all transactions. Robux can also be converted into real money. Roblox receives a share of the revenue, which is its main source of income.
To make money with a hobby
Zack Ovits is an 18-year old college freshman who got into Roblox script collection when he was nine years old. He now collaborates with developers from all over the globe, who he met through the platform to create commercial games and tools that can be used by other game designers. The teen who goes by the name of boat bomber on Roblox says, “I love it.” It’s my hobby, which also happens to make me money.
Children aged 9-12 aren’t known to have a lot of money for purchasing new avatars or other in-game items. Roblox generated $924 million last year, nearly double the $508million in 2019. However, Roblox lost $71 million last year and saw revenues of $924 million.
It is crucial to bring in older customers in order to continue growing the stock market and justify a valuation of over $40 billion at its direct listing. Potential investors are worried about Roblox’s 32.6million daily users. Tom Wijman is the games market leader at Newzoo.
Roblox warns that new privacy laws in certain countries could limit the games it offers. Roblox is also warning that selling items to minors may be restricted. This could impact Roblox’s growth and increase its costs. Roblox already has more than 2000 employees to manage the service and remove inappropriate content. Wijman states that Roblox’s future growth will depend on Roblox’s ability to reach older customers while keeping its younger clients.
This is exactly what CEO and founder Dave Baszucki presented last month during a virtual meeting of Wall Street analysts, fund managers, and Wall Street analysts. The CEO stated that Roblox is accessible to all ages and that more and more people are joining our platform. He spoke from his office, which was decorated with toys such as the Lego Hogwarts Castle. Roblox’s gaming site is known as “builder man” and has his own avatar.
Roblox originally intended to go public via a traditional IPO last year. Roblox pulled back after other startups saw huge stock price jumps on their first day of trading. It also had to clarify certain aspects of its accounting with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The plan now is to list the company directly on Wednesday under the symbol RBLX. Initial trading will take place from existing shareholders selling as many as 200 million shares that the company has previously issued. This is similar to direct listing deals such as those with Palantir and Spotify.
Roblox was valued at nearly $30 billion during its last private fundraising. It could easily double that amount if it follows another buzzy tech IPOs. However, tech stocks are struggling over the past week which could reduce investor enthusiasm.
Whatever the outcome, Baszucki could become a billionaire through a direct listing. He holds 70% of the voting rights and shares in the company. The 58-year old was born in Minnesota and studied computer science at Stanford. He also started Interactive Physics, a software company that built a computer simulation for students of physics.
The CEO and his team have many plans for growth and to attract older customers. Already, the company is working to improve the quality of its game graphics in order to appeal to older customers who prefer more realistic battle and adventure games. Machine-learning translation will be a big help in expanding the service into new countries. Currently, most translations are done manually by developers. Roblox’s leadership is also looking at ways to make Roblox more accessible beyond just games. For example, Roblox could offer virtual tours of fictional places or historical cities.
Baszucki claims that his ultimate goal is to transform Roblox into an enormous science-fiction virtual reality paradise. The “metaverse,” named after Neal Stephenson’s 1992 novel, is Roblox’s virtual gaming area. It would allow users to create and experience what they want, and it would be viewed via virtual reality headsets. Baszucki explained that Roblox users will soon be able to visit the historical city of ancient Rome and enjoy a walk around the area, rather than just reading about it.
He said, “When we think of what we’re doing here at Roblox–we are shepherds of the metaverse.”
Roblox long-time users share this dream. Many Roblox users share the same dream. They have been taught the concept of the metaverse through books such as Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash (which coined it) and Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One (which was made into a film in 2018). Jayden Charbonneau (21 years old) says that Roblox will soon be the real-world equivalent of the OASIS in Ready Player One, Jayden has been playing Roblox for almost a decade.
Charbonneau also works with other developers he met through Roblox. Many learned how to program in Lua (the free, open-source programming language that powers all Roblox’s games). Roblox also has its own extensions for Lua to ensure that games created using the tools run only on its platform and not those of its competitors. This is a common practice in tech companies.
Visions of a Perspective Reality is a recent Charbonneau game where players have to avoid obstacles and navigate the course switching between a two- and three-dimensional view of the action. It was awarded the Roblox developer conference award for best creative gameplay.
Baszucki could have Baszucki’s secret weapon in the huge Roblox community. They are a loyal group of users who grew up on Roblox and want to make Roblox a reality. Zack Ovits is a college freshman who plans to continue developing Roblox games professionally. He’s taking his first college-level computer science class this year. He says that it is amusingly lower than my current level, as it is an intro course. Roblox, thank you for the easy A+ I received in that class.
Roblox will make its stock market debut and hopes for similar loyalty from investors.