Roblox says children developing on its platform is a gift

A gift to who, though?!

MajorLinux - Editor-in-chief

I’ve heard a bunch of crockery on the internet trying to explain away many facets of capitalism. Earlier this week, we heard that AI was gonna easy humanity’s burden. Layoffs are happening because companies are going lean. But I’ve yet to hear how someone could explain away child labor. And Roblox didn’t do that great of a job doing so.

Roblox and Child Developers

Roblox studio head Stefano Corazza spent some time with Eurogamer to try and squash some rumors that have picked up recently about Roblox. You see, Roblox allows anyone to create content for its platform including whole games. This content can be sold within the platform for Roblox’s in-game currency. Naturally, with in-game currency, whoever is selling it is getting a cut.

That’s not really the issue, though. The issue is when you factor in who’s actually consuming and making content on the platform. Roblox’s target demographic tends to skew younger, mainly to grade school kids. It also means that its developer program tends to skew younger, too. While Roblox maintains that the average developer in its program is over the age of 18, there are still kids who are developing and selling content on its platform. And if a game makes it big, that’s dollar signs for Roblox.

Sure, the child may see some good money from it, too. But there are a lot of ramifications that can come from that. Children may want to “chase the high” of putting up big numbers and start burning themselves out. They could also develop crunch mindset trying to put up features to meet a potential deadline. But, the big thing I want to focus on is the children making big bucks for a corporation and not getting a fair deal because they don’t know any better.

Corazza tries to explain away child labor

This is where Corazza comes back in.

I don’t know, you can say this for a lot of things, right? Like, you can say, ‘Okay, we are exploiting, you know, child labour,’ right? Or, you can say: we are offering people anywhere in the world the capability to get a job, and even like an income. So, I can be like 15 years old, in Indonesia, living in a slum, and then now, with just a laptop, I can create something, make money and then sustain my life.”

Stefano Corazza to Eurogamer

So, let me get this straight. Instead of happening this kid and his family out of poverty, the kid can just be happy that is Roblox level he’s getting paid peanuts to develop may just possibly sustain his family.

This is a huge tactic that Capitalists like to use to justify their behavior. “Imagine being the person who would make it big. Wouldn’t that improve your life? Keep trying and you can be like me!”

He goes on to say that the platform is getting close to paying creators $1 billion.

For them, you know, hearing from their experience, they didn’t feel like they were exploited! They felt like, ‘Oh my god, this was the biggest gift, all of a sudden I could create something, I had millions of users, I made so much money I could retire.’ So, I focus more on the amount of money that we distribute every year to creators, which is now getting close to like a billion dollars, which is phenomenal.”

Stefano Corazza to Eurogamer

Another excuse he uses here is “I don’t hear them complaining!”. Of course you won’t hear children complaining. They are getting money where none existed before and never really expected it. I may be wrong here, but I imagine most children playing and developing on Roblox have most if not all of their needs met. Throwing money at them like this wouldn’t generate much of a complaint because it’s the cherry on top.

Another reason why they aren’t complaining is because most don’t know what it’s like to be exploited like this. I’m sure if someone told them how much was being left on the table (read: taken away from them by Roblox), the conversations might change.

Roblox PR steps in

It also seems that Corazza didn’t do that great of a job explaining Roblox’s position on the matter. PR had to send a response to Eurogamer after the article published further explaining the situation. It is included in full at the end.

This is just a sad state of affairs. I don’t think anybody trying to explain exploitive practices like this will do a great job because its not something that should be done.

And shame on Roblox for trying.

Roblox PR statement in full

The Roblox platform serves a broad community of creators People of all ages and backgrounds start creating on Roblox for many different reasons – to learn to code, to share their creations with friends, or simply for the joy of building. For many, using Roblox to build a game or virtual experience or virtual item is a form of creative expression. Much like other forms of creative expression, such as learning to play a musical instrument, or filming and uploading your own videos to the internet, for many it is a hobby, for others it may eventually turn into a career.

Our developer and creator community includes individuals with a wide spectrum of professional capabilities and team sizes, ranging from young students and independent hobbyists, all the way to full-time studios. Roblox is also an educational tool and education has been part of the company’s DNA since day one. Today, educators around the world harness the platform to create immersive learning experiences that inspire creativity, collaboration and critical thinking. We are proud of the positive difference that building on Roblox, with free tools available to all, has made in the lives of many in our developer community.

A recent survey into the reasons the creator community builds on Roblox found that the primary motivator for most creators is not monetary gain.In a survey conducted by Roblox and completed by more than 6,500 Roblox creators in Q4 2023, when asked about what motivates them to develop experiences on Roblox, having fun ranked 4x higher than monetization. For the subset of the creator community who wish to pursue monetization, Roblox offers a unique value proposition. As a user generated platform (UGC), the economics on Roblox are different from other gaming platforms. Roblox levels the playing field for developers by offering frictionless infrastructure, global distribution and development technologies at low upfront cost to developers.

For instance, unlike other platforms where developers incur expenses for app store fees, payment processing, storage, hosting, infrastructure, moderation and safety features – this is all covered by Roblox. You can learn more about the economic value proposition for developers and earning on Roblox, and the percentage breakdown of the Roblox share, here. As our platform has scaled, our monetizing developers and creators have enjoyed meaningful earnings expansion over time through the Roblox Developer Exchange (DevEx) program, which is the means by which creators monetize their games and experiences.

You can see how our DevEx has increased over the years in our supplemental materials, page 11.
In 2023, we delivered more than $741 million to the creator community through the DevEx program.
We are always looking for more ways for developers to earn on the platform (read Our Vision for Roblox Economy). For the experiences that monetize, the majority are created by developers who are aged 18 or older. Of the creators who are enrolled in the Roblox Developer Exchange (DevEx) program, the overwhelming majority are over the age of 18. The average age for top earning and/or engaging developers is around 25 years old. In 2023, more than 90% of the top 1,000 experiences by hours engaged in were owned by developers who were at least 18 years old.

Source: IGN

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By MajorLinux Editor-in-chief
Marcus Summers is a Linux system administrator by trade. He has been working with Linux for nearly 15 years and has become a fan of open source ideals. He self identifies as a socialist and believes that the world's information should be free for all.
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