At first glance, Tucker Stuff may seem like your average teenager. This 15-year-old from South Bend, Indiana, likes playing games and tinkering with electronics. But you might be surprised to learn that he’s made more than $6,000 making his own original video games. Tucker is one of hundreds of young people who are earning real money making games on a platform called ROBLOX, which is a tool to create games and other 3D art, as well as a place to play those games and socialize online.
“When we started ROBLOX, we had the vision of marrying what you do with construction toys like LEGO with what’s possible in the online arena, where there’s infinite scaling and shareability,” says ROBLOX CEO David Baszucki. “We wanted to give people the tools to build the cool gadgets they might have created in the past, and then equip them to infinitely share those gadgets with other people. We’ve kept to that theme—to that core idea—ever since.”
Games and programs that help kids and adults make their own games are a hot trend right now, with Microsoft having recently released Project Spark and games like Disney Infinity and LittleBigPlanet featuring modes that let you create your own games or levels. ROBLOX is different from these offerings in that game creators can actually make money from their games through something called the Developer Exchange. Though anyone can get started on ROBLOX for free, only users who are members of the “Outrageous Builder’s Club,” which requires a $19.99 a month subscription, have the potential to earn real money. Brad Justus, VP of marketing at ROBLOX, explained the process for us.
“Games on ROBLOX have the potential to earn virtual currency, called ROBUX, acquired through the sale of special passes, items, in-game purchases, and more,” he said. “Popular games earn a substantial amount of ROBUX. In late 2013, ROBLOX launched DevEx, which rewards game creators by allowing them to exchange ROBUX for cash. Developers submit a request, which is processed by our finance team, and payments are made via PayPal. Since the program’s inception, ROBLOX has paid nearly $700,000 to our developers. The top-earning developer has made more than $50,000.”
One hundred ROBUX is worth 25 cents, and creators have to have at least 100,000 ROBUX before they can cash them in, but for the creators like Tucker, who are earning a lot, the platform is providing a real way to make money doing something they love in a safe environment that promotes creativity.
“I’ve been using my ROBLOX earnings on a whole bunch of stuff, everything from buying video games to paying for a hotel room in San Francisco,” Tucker said. “More recently, I’ve been using [the earnings] to buy parts for an awesome desktop PC build. In the future, I’m planning on saving a portion of the money I make to put towards a car and higher education. I’m also planning to put some of it towards funding some new, more expensive hobbies, like Airsoft, along with renovating my room.”
Parents can learn more about ROBLOX in a special section on the platform’s website, but the team at the company wants to stress that ROBLOX is a safe environment for kids.
“ROBLOX is fully hosted and moderated,” said Justus. “That means we have a team of moderators who keep an eye on what is happening on ROBLOX.com and in games. We also have a vigilant community of players who report anything awry and our team acts quickly. So you can be confident that ROBLOX is safe as well as fun… and a great way for kids to play while exercising their creativity.”
Justus also said ROBLOX is a great place for parents and kids to play and create together. “It’s something that parents can do with younger children, or encourage tweens and teens to do together. Some of the best games on ROBLOX are created by teams of developers working together.”
Baszucki says one of the most rewarding things he’s been able to do at ROBLOX is empower kids to make great things. “Great developers start not with the intent to make money, but to make something fun that they’re passionate about. ROBLOX gives our creators the tools to build something great and rewards their hard work and effort.”