Roblox CEO David Baszucki revealed plans to expand the popular gaming platform into a metaverse used by more than one billion people everyday, and he sees virtual dating and concerts as key to achieving his ambitious goal.
In a recent interview with The Verge’s Alex Heath at the Code Conference in California, U.S., Baszucki detailed his “vision of creating an immersive platform that connects people around the world,” allowing them to “socialize [and] do things together.”
Roblox goes beyond gaming
David Baszucki wants Roblox, which has 66 million players a day, to grow beyond being just a gaming platform for kids to include people of all ages doing all kinds of things. The game enjoys a cult following among teenagers and children under 17, according to some surveys.
In 2020, Bloomberg reported that 66% of all children in the U.S. between the ages of 9 and 12 played the game. But that is starting to change. Baszucki said the fastest-growing segment for Roblox currently is users aged 17–24, expanding at a rate of over 33% year-on-year.
“We have started allowing our creators, when you’re validated with your photo ID and we know for sure you’re 17, to start easing into some of those more mature experiences that you might consider a kind of grown-up experience,” said the Roblox CEO.
Alex Heath asked Baszucki exactly what the “mature” users were doing on Roblox, to which he replied that they were socializing and playing games. “It’s surprising the number of older people that play with a wide range of experiences and come to socialize,” Baszucki said.
He pointed to engineers and mechanics with the Canadian National Railway who connected through the game Jailbreak on Roblox, saying: “The level of social, the level of immersion, the level of being together with your friends no matter where they are is somewhat universal.”
We've launched the ability for ID verified developers to upload short form video to their experiences. #RobloxDev
— Roblox (@Roblox) October 13, 2023
A virtual ‘communications platform’
As part of his one billion metaverse daily active users goal, Baszucki plans to transform Roblox into a “communications platform” for different types of interactions in the virtual world. He called it ‘3D immersive communication’ and includes things like virtual dates, concerts, education, shopping trips, and collaborative workspaces.
“Our belief is that this type of technology is bigger than gaming. Gaming is a part of it, side-by-side concerts and working together, so I think we’ve evolved to a utility vision of this type of platform,” Baszucki said.
The CEO expects virtual dating to gain traction on Roblox because of the anonymity that comes with using avatars.
“What’s really interesting about the dating market, there’s probably a third of the population that won’t go on Tinder or Hinge because of awkwardness. In an immersive 3D avatar-type communication where you can be Shrek and I can be whoever I want to be, there’s actually… a little bit of a breakdown of the friction, of the fear of a video call,” Baszucki explained.
“I do believe someday someone will build a dating app on Roblox. It’ll be very safe. It’ll be for 17-and-up people, and it’ll be an interesting way for people to connect,” he added.
Founded in 2004 by Baszucki and Erik Cassel, Roblox is an online gaming outfit that allows players to create their own games within it and to play games created by other users. Roblox refers to the players as developers, which is one of the things that has made it popular with users.
Roblox’s ‘developers’ can even earn in-game currency called Roblux from other players. In the 12 months ending June 2023, Roblox creators earned around $680 million, making it one of the biggest virtual economies, according to the company.
During the Code Conference interview, Baszucki revealed that the company has since started age verification for experiences designed for adult users. He also talked about Roblox’s AI ambitions and the company’s plans to integrate the gaming app on every device, including Meta’s Quest VR headsets and Apple’s upcoming Vision Pro.