(Hypebot) – From major artists to major labels, the music industry is embracing Roblox. Warner Music Group even invested over $10 million and partnered with the startup.
Roblox is an online gaming and game creation platform that allows users to program and play games created by other users. Over 200 million players play on Roblox every month, making it the most popular video game platform in the US and Europe.
In 2020, Roblox held its first virtual concert with Lil Nas X. In 2021, Swedish singer Zara Larsson performed songs at a virtual party, and in September, Twenty One Pilots took the virtual stage.
But critics say Roblox doesn’t adequately protect its young users from abuse or share enough revenue with the young users/developers who are the backbone of the platform.
People Make Games’ Quintin Smith investigated Roblox in a series of YouTube videos.
“It’s arguably the most successful example of a metaverse in the world,” he says. “And it’s also kind of an interesting case study of why the Metaverse might not be quite the kind of glittery dreamland that some tech entrepreneurs claim to be.”
Smith interviewed young developers, some of whom dropped out of school to make games on Roblox. “Even though Roblox says to encourage you to make games, the likelihood of you making a successful game is next to zero,” an 11-year-old developer told him.
Its survey also revealed that developers only earn 17 cents from Roblox for every dollar invested in the platform. Other gaming platforms pay up to 30%.
Smith spoke to NPR about a 12-year-old girl who started working for a Roblox game creator in her 20s, now accused of sending sex messages to the underage. She and her follower spent a year trying to bring the evidence that this user was an abuser to Roblox’s attention and received no response from the company.
But the abuser was making “Sonic the Hedgehog” games. So when Sonic’s owner Sega learned of the incidents, it asked Roblox to remove the games “because they didn’t like this abuser making Sonic fan games”, Roblox eventually took measures.
“But that, to me, shows that Roblox was able to act very, very quickly when a company got involved in a copyright issue,” Smith says. “but was apparently uninterested in a year of desperate messages from young people asking them to take action.”
Bruce Houghton is founder and publisher of Hypebot and MusicThinkTank and is senior adviser to Bandsintown which acquired both publications in 2019. He is the founder and president of Skyline Artists Agency and a professor at Berklee College Of Music.