While Roblox is seen by many as an innocent game made for children, it has several grave problems which need to be solved. By encouraging a young audience to refine their skills in game development so that they can make their own games in the platform and earn money, Roblox was a powerful tool for encouraging creativity among younger generations, making it a beloved game that manages to not only be entertaining but also serve an educative purpose. But as a platform in which children and pre-teens interact with real-life currency, Roblox’s unethical choices become apparent.
There has been plenty of controversy surrounding Roblox in the past, and most of the issues surround how developers of these games are paid. While in 2020 Roblox developers received $250 million for their work, making money by creating content within the platform can be difficult, not only because of the problematic cut the company takes from creators, but also due to the fact that they’re paid in robux instead of a real-world currency. Not only that, but another problem with the platform is how purchasing popular items in the Avatar Shop can involve actual gambling, with players having to study the statistics of the variation of an item’s price to spend less robux. Another key point of controversy is how little support there is to managing work relationship problems, such as harassment and unfair working dynamics, which is a great issue not only when considering how young Roblox’s general audience is, but also how disconnected developers become from the platform.
Roblox Uses Problematic Methods To Pay Developers
Accusations of Roblox exploiting developers come partly from the high cut of their wages which is taken by the platform, which is high when compared to others, such as Steam and Epic Games. According to the official Roblox website, for each dollar the company makes, divided between several other company costs, creators only make 29 cents, which is low considering the amount of effort it takes to make a game. Developers are also not guaranteed to have their game advertised on the platform unless they pay the company a certain advertising fee. When considering that it’s almost impossible to transfer a game made in the platform into another online store, these small wages make Roblox an unreliable way to make money creating games.
Not only that, but developers are paid in robux, the currency used to make purchases in Roblox’s store, such as player outfits and other accessories instead of using real-world currencies. This is controversial, with many, such as Quintin Smith from the People Make Games YouTube channel, comparing it with company scrips, which have been banned in several countries, including the United States. Much like company scrips, robux are a form of currency that can be used by workers to buy products from Roblox, the company they work for, and are nearly worthless when converted to real-world currency. While this can be seen as another way to incentivize children to create games and buy assets for themselves, this is not only unfair considering the effort developers put into their games, but also extremely problematic.
Roblox’s Avatar Shop Encourages Gambling
Many online games have accessories stores in which players can buy their characters new outfits and other decorative assets by spending real money in microtransactions, such as GTA Online and Fortnite. Roblox functions much in the same way, with players being able to access several servers run by the platform and pick out accessories from an in-game store to make their characters more fashionable so that they stand out from the other blocky models in the same server. Although this seems much like how these purchases work in other games, Roblox’s in-game store has been the focal point of many controversies about the platform, due to a different feature that makes it possible for the company to not only sell assets costing hundreds of dollars, but also force players to gamble to acquire certain items.
The in-game store in Roblox functions similarly to the one in Fortnite, with players exchanging real money for the online currency to acquire the desired items. However, in Fortnite, the prices of the bizarre crossover skins and other accessories available for purchase remains the same throughout all versions of the game, while, in Roblox, the prices of limited collectibles in the Avatar Shop vary depending on how many players acquire it. This functions similarly to the stock market, with the platform offering players a price chart they can use to study the inflation periods of the item’s price. This is a controversial feature of the online shop, given that players are encouraged to gamble and study different odds of acquiring desirable items without spending too many robux. Considering how young Roblox’s usual players are, this mechanic is actively forcing them to interact with an activity they shouldn’t be partaking in.
Roblox Has No Support For Content Moderation
While many were concerned over Roblox easing its chat restrictions, the moderation problems within the game have been another focal point of controversy. One of the most important aspects of creating safe spaces within servers is moderation, which is helpful in preventing the dissemination of hate speech, violence, and general obscenity on a given platform. This becomes even more important when considering younger players, with the games’ moderation needing to prevent the players from interacting with any content over the age restriction. Roblox’s repeated dismissal of deep problems of harassment in its community, especially between content creators, has been actively endangering its playerbase.
One of the biggest problems in Roblox’s moderation concerns the work relationships between content creators, given that, as the platform evolved, young developers have partnered with each other to make other games. Although this can be a positive experience, it’s also an example of how unsafe Roblox can be for children. Due to the main interactions within the creative team occurring outside the platform, many instances of harassment or unfair treatment won’t be dealt with by moderation. However, this is not only a problematic measure when considering that Roblox functions as a work environment, given creators are paid for their work by the company, but it can also endanger the developers. When combining a longtime culture of trying to preserve reputation within the game with a lack of proper moderation supervising developers’ interactions, Roblox’s work environment can become toxic quickly.
There are many reasons why Roblox is good for its generally young audience. However, these controversial issues have led to a great concern about the future and the safety of Roblox’s millions of active users – especially the younger ones. In the 10 years since its original release, the platform has gone through many changes in how it works, and should these issues be addressed and solved, it has an opportunity to become even more successful and continue to grow while valuing the players and developers that use it.
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Sources: Roblox, People Make Games