Roblox Criticized For Shooting Re-creations And Its Exploitation Of Young Creators
Roblox is a platform that lets creators create all kinds of ahem, experiences, and many of those fall under the header of shooters. Blasting zombies or robots or even "evil" humans is generally accepted, but some users have been using Roblox's tools to re-create real-life massacres.
As reported by The Verge, Anti-Defamation League researcher Daniel Kelley recently found two simulations of the 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand with just a simple search of "Christchurch." It's the third time Kelley has found such content within the Roblox ecosystem.
Roblox has since removed the games and suspended the users responsible, but as The Verge points out, with 40 million daily users creating for the platform, sometimes content like that slips through. It's especially difficult when the search term is a city, which requires "human review to balance allowing references to the geographic location (New Zealand's largest city) but not uses that violate our policies."
In other controversial Roblox-related news, Quintin Smith of People Make Games has produced a video detailing what he considers to be the exploitative nature of Roblox's business model, especially as it relates to younger, business-unsavvy creators. Roblox has over 20 million games, I mean "experiences," of which only a scant few can make even a trivial amount of money -- and even accessing what money they earn is a difficult process.
Content creators get paid in Robux, which Smith compared to "scrip" as used by mining and logging companies back in the day, a practice that was banned in 1938. Robux can only be withdrawn and converted into real money if a creator has at least 100,000 Robux -- about $1000 -- in their account. That's compared to a $100 bar in Entropia Universe and just $10 in Second Life. But Roblox will only pay $350 for that 100,000 Robux, on top of a 30% cut it takes for any Robux earned, meaning that content creators make even less than the 24.5% rate that Roblox advertises (17% according to Roblox's own financial statements), far lower than the 70% or 88% that Steam or the Epic Game Store offer, respectively.
In addition to examining the system himself, Smith interviewed several creators, one of whom said, "I don't think it's possible for young developers to succeed on the platform any more." Another, a veteran of 12 years, compared it to making a viral TikTok or meme: "If you don't hit that [kids] demographic just right, and you don't hit that gameplay loop just right, you fail."
Smith doesn't think all this is likely to change, especially now that Roblox is a public company (and raking in tons of cash), since "kids working too hard with unreasonable expectations isn't bad for the company." As he puts it, this would all be illegal if it wasn't online. Maybe it should be.
About the Author
Jason Winter is a veteran gaming journalist, he brings a wide range of experience to MMOBomb, including two years with Beckett Media where he served as the editor of the leading gaming magazine Massive Online Gamer. He has also written professionally for several gaming websites.
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