Roblox Is Not Just For Kids
For over a year, Roblox executives have been talking about how the platform has aged up, touting the fact that 17-24 year olds are the platform's fastest growing demographic segment.
Why does Roblox focus so much on positioning itself as a platform that appeals to more than young children?
On one hand, reaching an older audience is a way for the platform to expand its reach and help it achieve its goal of reaching 1 billion active users. (Expanding globally in relatively untapped regions like India and recent distribution expansion to platforms like Playstation and Quest VR are other steps towards achieving this lofty goal.)
On the other hand, older audiences typically have more spending power than younger children, so these 17+ people also have the potential to significantly impact the platform's bottom line.
Roblox Experiences for 17+ Audiences
In order to better serve this older audience, which falls squarely within the hard-to-reach Gen Z, Roblox rolled out an update to their platform over the summer.
In an blog post "Introducing Experiences for People 17 and Older," here's how they describe this update:
"We want Roblox to simulate and even go beyond what’s possible in the real world. For example, when a family attends a sporting event, there’s something at the stadium for everyone to do. But some of these areas may be off-limits for young people. As they get older, though, they’ll be able to access those areas, and we want to replicate that dynamic on Roblox.
Now, creators will be able to offer experiences for those 17 and older that feature more mature themes and storylines like in TV shows or stand-up comedy. These experiences may contain more violence, blood, or crude humor."
Before this change to have specific 17+ content, Roblox had age guidelines that made it possible to create experiences for people 9 and older and also 13 and older.
Overnight Success for 17+ Experience Developers
Can you have overnight success on Roblox?
Well, for independent development studio Diepolder Entertainment , the answer is "yes."
In two days (YES, 2 DAYS!), they created and launched Drinks on Tap, a 17+ experience that lets players go to a bar, order alcohol, and hop into brawls.
The experience has surpassed 2.9M visits and has a 95% user rating.
And during the Roblox Developers Conference, Roblox CEO David Baszucki specifically highlighted Drinks on Tap during his keynote!
Very impressive for such a small team cranking out a project so quickly.
I've gotten to know the Diepolder team well this year, and I'm so happy for their success. It was cool to see a beaming Theron Akubuiro after the RDC keynote shoutout from Dave, and he looked like he was walking on air.
Here's an interview I had with Bryan Lee, head of Diepolder about making 17+ experiences and what this change could mean for brands.
Q&A with Roblox 17+ Developer Bryan Lee of Diepolder
Stephen: Why did you decide to start making 17+ games on Roblox?
Bryan: Since the 17+ category was so new, we saw it as an opportunity to fill a niche. It was a super spontaneous decision, and we actually took about 2 days to produce and release On Tap. Since then, we've been updating the game and seeing a ton of success.
Stephen: How do you approach making a 17+ game differently than making an All Ages game on Roblox?
Bryan: 17+ games are mainly social games that require a lot of community engagement. A lot of users that are currently in the 17+ sort are people who just want to hop onto a game and socialize with other users. There isn't much difference except for the 17+ content such as alcohol, violence, gore, etc.
Stephen: What feedback have you gotten back about Drinks on Tap?
Bryan: Some things that we've heard are that On Tap is exactly what Roblox has been looking for in 17+ experiences, creating an environment where users can engage in genuine conversations without being disrupted by kids who come up and scream into their microphone.
Some users have informed us that this game has brought them back to the platform and some even changing their lives and improving their mental health.
Stephen: Why do you think Drinks on Tap has been successful?
Bryan: On Tap has been successful because of the community and players. They are the ones that use the social tools provided in our experience to create their own memories.
Stephen: Have you heard about the 17+ game for the Saw movie [Saw X: Survive the Obby]? What do you think about it?
Bryan: I have, I just got finished playing it! It's really cool to see that media and brands can start to advertise content for certain age groups since some content is not appropriate for younger kids.
Stephen: Do you think more brands will make 17+ games? Why or why not?
Bryan: It's sort of too early to tell right now. It is still very new, and not many people play on it. A lot of games that you would see on the front page that work for kids will not work for adults. So, it is very important to create an experience that would appeal to those users, mainly social or in-depth game play styles.
Stephen Dypiangco is the CEO of Metaverse Marcom, a strategy and consulting firm helping entertainment and sports brands enter Roblox.
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