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Roblox business model criticized as exploiting children

User-created game platform dinged for low revenue shares, leading creators to pay for advertising, unreasonable policies for cashing out

A new investigation from People Make Games argues that children's game platform Roblox is exploiting its younger user base.

According to the report, Roblox sees an estimated 200 million users a month and its core user base is between the ages of 9 and 15.

Roblox users are able to earn money from games that are created on the platform, but the company gives them a much smaller cut of the revenues than is industry standard for game developers.

On Roblox developers earn 24.5% of their revenue, compared to 70% on Steam, and 88% on the Epic Games Store.

However it's not simple for users' games to become popular and profitable after release. The platform has very limited discovery features, and normally highlights roughly 1,000 or so popular games on the front page.

To be highlighted, creators can hope that their games can become popular organically, or they can pay Roblox itself to feature the game on the front page, the investigation said.

Advertising requires the use of Robux, the in-game currency which can be purchased using real money or earned by selling games and content to other users.

A user can then bid for a chance to have an ad slot for their game with the virtual money.

A creator who uses the platform told People Make Games that the chance of having a popular and profitable game is similar to a Tiktok video or meme going viral.

If users want to cash out their earnings into a real bank account the report said that they need a minimum of 100,000 Robux which would cost users roughly $1,000. However, the conversion rate Roblox gives upon cashing out means the creator only receives $350.

The option to withdraw funds is also only available to consumers with Roblox premium subscriptions, which are $5 per month.

In June, a parent watchdog group put out a warning about Roblox's "casino-level" spending.

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