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Erin Sowerby’s nine-year-old daughter, Catherine, usually spent two hours a day swimming, and the rest of the day at school and with friends. Now that the rules of social distance, school and swimming are not in force, and Catherine spends time alone with her family in Fort Myers, Florida.
To stay in touch with friends, she uses the Roblox gaming platform. Launched 14 years ago to create an exciting experience for kids, Roblox has become the second largest app for iOS, according to the latest AppAnnie data. The app has many games that allow children to build digital houses, breed pets and run around theme parks together.
The technology was not designed for the pandemic, but in the light of recent events, its use has increased dramatically as COVID-19 has forced children such as Catherine to stay home.
“It’s not just pointless entertainment, and it calms me down a bit,” said Erin Sowerby, a consultant who now works from her home in southwest Florida. “It replaces most of the communication she doesn’t receive in person because she’s at home with me or her grandparents.”
Millions of parents across the country are suddenly forced to combine full-time work, raising children and studying at home. Sweat this children should be kept in four walls away from their friends. In many cases, the growth of screen time is inevitable, but Roblox has become an alternative to the unwanted experience of watching endless videos and cartoons on YouTube.
Roblox Chief Commercial Officer Craig Donato said that utilization increased by 40% in March compared to February. According to AppAnnie, the app is second only to YouTube in terms of the largest sources of revenue on iOS. This is the opposite of what most corporate Americans face, including startups like Airbnb, Toast, ClassPass, and Bird, which cut costs and, in many cases, cut jobs.
This year, Roblox expects Virus in the $ 1 billion ramzer, mostly through in-app purchases. The company, based in San Mateo, California, spends 25% of that money on developers who use software called Roblox Studio to create games for the app. Roblox does not disclose revenue, but the site Data Sensor in November estimated that sales in 2019 increased by 30% from 2018 to $ 435 million. Developers have earned more than $ 110 million
Virtual birthday parties
Games can be played for free, but gamers can purchase a digital currency called Robux to purchase additional features. For example, in a theme park, players can pay to create an individual jukebox or make more trips, and in a ninja game, they can pay to increase their speed. There are also subscriptions to a certain number of Robux per month. Some parents organize birthday parties for their children on the site, creating virtual rooms that their friends and relatives can enter with their avatars. Players can even listen to favourite music in Roblox, they just need to find music code on RobloxSong website.
Sowerby said her daughter uses Roblox to breed pets and build buildings, adding that she even “encouraged me to buy Robux a couple of times.”
In addition to highlighting the social features of its games, Roblox is implementing features that help educators incorporate game tools into their distance learning plans.
“It’s a place where kids can play unstructured games, which is very valuable,” said Donato, who joined the company in 2016 after leaving Nextdoor. “Everything is locked now, and that’s the thing we focused on, now it’s even more in demand.”
However, parents still want to know that their children are safe and that they are not subject to excessive attention from abusers. Roblox includes numerous parental controls that adults can use to disable communication or communication management features. Donato said the company also uses a combination of moderators and software to monitor what people are saying and filter what is appropriate based on the player’s age.
Donato noted that the coronavirus was not a topic of conversation when Andreessen Horowitz held a $ 150 million funding round in late February with an estimate of about $ 4 million. Marc Andreessen and David George George), the company’s partners, wrote in their blog at the time that more than 2 million developers use Roblox “without the initial costs, risks and disadvantages of the traditional downward model for game publishers.”
The developer platform is an important part of Roblox’s growing popularity. Roblox Studio, where children can learn to create games without understanding coding, includes templates and educational videos so that children can create their own worlds and even learn to publish games.
Ricky Bennett, vice president of iD Tech, said the Roblox game development class is the best-selling virtual course. Bennett said college students, who typically teach in summer camps, are looking to find work, and parents are looking for ways to productively occupy their children while they go about their business.
“One of the things that makes a product appealing to parents is that kids can have fun,” said Bennett, who lives in the Phoenix area and has four children as young as 11 and younger. – I can be sure that my child is under the supervision of an adult, experiencing important social experience, while remaining in one place and will not run in the background during my conferences “.
It’s time for developers
There is a similar trend in Buildbox, another non-coder game development platform. The company offers a free set of developers and charges monthly subscriptions for more advanced authors. Ad-tech startup AppOnBoard acquired BuildBox in mid-2019, and it quickly became the company’s core business.
Jonathan Zweig, CEO of AppOnBoard, said that the increase in the number of Buildbox subscribers since February 26 was 2850%. Zweig says BuildBox is especially appealing to developers who have gone beyond Roblox and want a wider range of tools. According to him, the age range from 16 to 26 years is the most pleasant category, which includes high school and college students, who are now also stuck in four walls. Many of the games they create are designed for young children.
Ben Scriven, who lives near London, encodes just for this audience. He is 39 years old and has worked as a television editor. But his passion is game development, which allows him to combine his skills in music, graphic design and film production. He started making games using Buildbox a few years ago while getting to work for an hour.
Now that he’s at home, Wrong has decided to focus on creating his next game, a sequel to his previous release, Nite Fighter, which includes fighter pilot control, attracting Call of Duty audiences, he says. Skryvlen should not only make this new game fun, but also focus on its monetization, work with the publisher and sell advertising.
The wrinkle has two young children, and he expects that the proceeds from the game will allow him to pay the bills, although he has a couple of months to run. Meanwhile, his family lives on savings.
“I’ve always dreamed of making arcade games, since childhood I wanted to do it ,” he said grimacing. – Now I have the opportunity to do it full time, take it and really do it. I can no longer go to work in London. ”
Returning to the United States, Lesley Stordahl began to adjust to her work schedule at home, while her two children, ages 12 and 9, adapted to distance learning. Jasper, who is in sixth grade, has a group of friends who write, chat, and play Roblox together. The fourth-grader from Odessa is not such a gamer, but she recently got into Roblox and now enjoys roaming in a digital amusement park. While their parents take Zoom calls and do all the necessary tasks, they look for as many activities for the children as possible. At the same time, they are trying to be frugal, because there is no certainty about what awaits us in the future.
“We do our best not to spend a lot of money, and Roblox is great in that sense because it gives variety at no cost ,” said Leslie Stordal during a video call with children with their homes in Brooklyn, New York. – I want to make sure that they socialize and do not lose touch with friends.