Why Studios, Distributors, And Indie Creators Are Focusing On Roblox
Roblox, the online platform and game creation system that allows users to program their own games and play games created by other users, is an increasingly important player in the games and animation ecosystem.
Studios and independent creators are using Roblox as a platform to show off their work, while distributors and rightsholders are watching what’s hot with Roblox to discover new IPs and find untapped talent.
Momoguro, A Case Study
In one of the most ambitious additions to the Roblox universe, nine-time Emmy-winning production company Baobab Studios is currently using the platform as a launchpad for its new IP Momoguro.
Baobab founded, at least outwardly, as a virtual reality company but quickly expanded into other mediums. According to co-founder and CEO Maureen Fan, that was always the plan behind the scenes. “When we were fundraising to launch Baobab, I was telling all the potential investors that we wanted our IPs to stretch across all mediums,” she recently told Cartoon Brew.
Baobab’s business can be divided into three groups: games, publishing, and film and tv. There is often a lot of crossover between the three, and that’s the case with Momoguro. Earlier this year, the company launched a digital collectible sale for the brand which sold out in eight hours. Shortly after that, Baobab announced it was developing an animated series directed by Martin Allais and Nico Casavecchia which is based on the IP. The company also launched the first of two Roblox-based Momoguro video games, Momoguro: Momo Quest. The second game, Momoguro: Legends of Uno, doesn’t have an announced release date yet, but Baobab says it’s coming soon.
“Roblox is a great canvas for studios like Baobab that sit at the intersection of entertainment and gaming, allowing them to engage fans in consistent and personalized ways through narrative content,” Roblox head of entertainment partnerships Todd Lichten told Cartoon Brew.
For Fan, Robolox was an obvious home for Momoguro for several reasons, but first among them was the platform’s audience. “Everyone is on Roblox right now. It’s a perfect place to engage with our audience, our fanbase for this IP. For the show we’re developing, that will be the same demographic and we’ll have this already rabid fanbase,” she explained.
“Innovative studios like Baobab are using the platform to create and pressure test new storyworlds ahead of linear production, applying real-time audience feedback while also building always-on channels that can drive community for years to come,” said Lichten.
Fan, a former executive at Farmville developer Zynga, agreed, “I come from games, and one thing I especially love about games is the ability to iterate quickly and get data. At Zynga I could come up with a feature on Monday, have it out on Wednesday or Thursday, and see if it’s doing well by the end of the week.”
According to Lichten Baobab aren’t the only studio that’s operating in the Roblox ecosystem, and his company strives to help studios better work with the platform and get everything they can out of it.
“We are constantly innovating new ways for our community to earn and engage their audiences through experience creation and in-experience purchases, avatar fashion, advertising, and more,” he explained. “We’re eager to show pro studios why creation on Roblox provides them with unparalleled opportunities for innovative, high-fidelity 3d creation and business expansion.”
Looking at Roblox’s engagement numbers, it’s easy to see why companies would be interested in using the platform to promote IP and gauge audience interest. Roblox shared some of its most recent statistics with us, and the company saw 66.1 million average daily active users in Q1 2023, up 22% year-over-year. The platform generated five billion hours of user engagement in that same period, up 23% year-over-year.
A Scouting Tool
It’s not only creators that are using Roblox as a key resource either. Global media company Moonbug has become a leader in the animation industry by making shrewd, well-planned acquisitions and growing independent animated properties into global franchises. We spoke with the company’s managing director Andy Yeatman earlier this year, and he told us that in addition to standard video streaming platforms like Youtube and Tiktok, his company watches Roblox to find potential acquisitions.
“I would say Roblox is another platform where independent creators can create an IP and have it reach a very big audience,” he said.
A Platform for Independent Creators
Lichten says his company works hard to maintain a system that facilitates opportunities for independent artists as well. “For creators on Roblox, we offer end-to-end creation out-of-the-box. Creators have everything they need in one place and will only be charged a portion of earnings after they make money,” he told us.
“As we continue to grow, we are investing in the tools and resources for storytellers and creators to build the next generation of experiences users can enjoy on the platform,” Lichten added.
Over the past 3 years, the top 1,000 creators have grown their earnings four times that of the top 10 creators – a rate of 869%. That means that a lot of regular individuals, not just the “influencers,” are creating content on the Roblox platform and benefiting from doing so. In 2021 and 2022, Roblox paid over $1.1 billion to creators, a 164% increase over the previous two-year period.
Roblox is Growing Up
Roblox has a reputation as being a platform for kids, but its userbase demographic is changing. According to the company, users over 13 years old now make up over half of the community and its fastest growing demographic is 17-24-year-olds, with the demographic growing by 35% in Q1 2023 over the previous year.
That makes sense. Roblox has been around for years, it was first launched on Windows in 2006. Kids who were early adapters to the platform are now young adults, and many of Roblox’s long-time creators are now seasoned veterans who are creating games and videos aimed at people their own age.
“Research shows that Gen Z and Millenials play games and experiences to be entertained, connect socially, and to feel a sense of immersion,” said Lichten. “They want to feel transported into the world behind the screen, so they gravitate toward more immersive forms of content and interactive, social experiences and spaces. They find all of this on Roblox through connecting, communicating, creating, and exploring with friends.”