With over 64 million monthly active players, up to 1 million of whom are logged on simultaneously during peak times, chances are you have heard of online game creation platform Roblox. Fans are probably also aware that all the games in the Lego-like virtual world are created by users, typically teens and young adults.
What is not as widely known is that the California-based company gives 30 percent of any revenues earned from the games to the creators. In 2017, Roblox paid out $30 million, $3 million of which went to one developer while two others received $2 million apiece. In 2018, the company has distributed an astounding $70 million to the most popular games created by members of its four-million-strong developer base.
Among the biggest beneficiaries of the revenue-sharing policy is Alex Jafanz, the publisher of Jailbreak – a role-playing game where inmates escape from prison and run from the police. While the 19-year-old and his business partner have created several other games on Roblox, none have been as popular as Jailbreak. Just three days after its release on April 21, 2017, the addictive game boasted 75,000 concurrent players, the highest ever in a Roblox game. Within three weeks, Jailbreak reached 44 million place visits, making it the fastest-growing Roblox game ever in the company’s 14-year history!
Like a majority of the games on Roblox, Jailbreak is free to play. However, content creators can charge players for in-game items, paid with Roblox’s virtual currency, Robux, which can be earned or purchased with real money. Given Jailbreak’s phenomenal success, it is not surprising to hear that fans have purchased a substantial amount of Robux to spend on amenities, such as a stereo for their in-game car or a VIP card that provides special benefits.
While Jafanz will not reveal how much he has earned from the game in the last two years, he does say it is enough to pay for four years of college tuition at Duke University, where he is currently studying artificial intelligence. The young developer, who spends his spare time helping other game creators, attributes Jailbreak’s success to its ease of use, engaging gameplay, and free incentives, like vehicle skins and in-game credits, which motivate fans to return.
18-year-old New Jersey resident Andrew Bereza, the brains behind Miners Haven – a “tycoon” game that casts users as mining barons – has experienced similar success. Since its release in 2015, the game has been played millions of times and is still popular with the young Roblox audience. While Bereza has “lost track” of the amount of money he has made, the freshman at the University of Washington says it is enough to pay for his undergraduate education.
For those who do not like playing or developing games, there are other ways to make money on Roblox. 19-year-old Anne Shoemaker, 18-year-old Kacey Mathews, and 18-year-old Vivian Arellano are just a few of the many 3D artists or scriptwriters who get paid for helping programmers like Jafanz and Berenza with the user interface and character art for their games.
As to what inspired these young entrepreneurs to develop or design Roblox games? They are all former game players! So if you are a Roblox fan, you may be on the path to prosperity – provided you use your imagination and work hard, of course!
Resources: Buinessinsider.com, blog.roblox.com, cnn.com