What’s the deal with Roblox? An EX Special Report

We turned our red Roblox caps backwards and started greeting our fellow kids.

What’s the deal with Roblox? An EX Special Report

Introduction: Should I care about Roblox? 🤔

You’ve heard of Roblox. If you’re a parent, you might be hearing about Roblox right this instant. If not, maybe you've seen the game’s eye-popping numbers: 

  • Either the #1 or #2 game in the US, depending who you ask [link]
  • $4 billion valuation to a $45 billion IPO (with a later drop) [link
  • 77.7 million daily active users [link]
  • Each playing 2.4 hours per day on average [link]
  • Including half of all US youth age 12 to 17 [link]

We publish a weekly newsletter about culture and technology, so we see Roblox constantly. LEGO-headed Roblox memes and blocky anime battles are all over video platforms and Discord servers. But the platform’s thriving ecosystem of experiences and influencers remains baffling to nearly all adults, including us.

In 2020, the New York Times called Roblox “this generation’s version of going to the mall” [link]. But it’s a mall where half the stores are run by kids (is that legal?), salespeople pounce on you at the entrance to every shop, and some shady vendor around the corner claims to be selling Kim Kardashian’s sex tape. Many of the businesses are jokes, and others claim to do everything at once, like a 3-in-1 men’s hair product: they’re obstacle courses, role-playing games, and pet simulators all in one. 

We wanted to understand what was happening in the mall. So we turned our red Roblox caps backwards and started greeting our fellow kids. After many hours and thousands of Robux spent, we returned with a list of reasons to care about Roblox, even if you don’t like the place. We’ve divided them into three sections for your convenience: the business, the games, and the culture. 

Table of contents

Part One: Why is Roblox so huge?

  • It’s the closest thing we have to a metaverse.
  • It’s grown steadily for decades.
  • It’s a training ground for developers.

Part Two: Why do kids (still) play Roblox?

  • It draws you in through social networks.
  • You can choose your own adventure.
  • Gameplay diversity is its own draw.
  • Nostalgia for childhood experiences is powerful.
  • Its trends influence the wider world of games.
  • It’s become a stage for other media.

Part Three: Why do I see Roblox avatars everywhere?

  • Roblox fashion captures the online cultural zeitgeist.
  • Its fashion scene continues to evolve.
  • In-game shopping experiences mimic real ones.
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