Gamers Making Money With Games: The New Business Model?

Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
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Gamers Making Money With Games: The New Business Model?

Have you ever played a role-playing game, like “Skyrim” for example, and wished it were that easy to make money in real time? If you've ever wished that you could fight a couple dozen goblins with a sword and make enough for groceries for the week, well, you're not alone. But Roblox's CEO, David Baszucki, thinks that maybe it should be this easy to make money, and is working to get that kind of business model into play.

Roblox is one game you may not have heard of, but plenty of players have. It's been running a little under 10 years now, since 2006, and it's not so much a game as it is a platform for making games. In Roblox, users can build a variety of platforms using provided tools, in much the same way that Minecraft does. But that building allows gamers to create a variety of complete titles, ranging from adventure games to shooters and beyond. The games have that Minecraft-style visual flair—lots of blocks and sharp corners—but the fun factor in many games is simply undeniable to some gamers, and that keeps them coming back.

As Baszucki put it, “We're very early in the days of a whole new class of game platforms for user-generated content.” And Baszucki has developed something very impressive; the Roblox Corporation allows gamers to create content and then offer it up to other gamers. The Roblox Corporation shows advertising ahead of every game, and in turn, shares said ad revenue with players based on the number of times the ads are viewed. Right now, the company has paid out over a half a million dollars—fully $600,000—to its creators. With that kind of cash on the table, more creators step in, and that in turn means more opportunities for players to find interesting games. This means more advertising opportunities for Roblox, and the cycle carries on.

It's an exciting concept, and one that has been in the works for some time. Consider how users routinely used to sell characters and items alike in “World of Warcraft,” despite the nature of the act. Consider how popular “Diablo III”'s auction house was. The idea of making money playing video games has been a delight to many gamers mostly since there were games to play, and to actually see that concept come to fruition is an exciting one indeed. It doesn't have to end here, of course; we've already seen it in operation, which means it could easily be put to work elsewhere in other games.

Plus, this could be the way that studios need to find alternate revenue streams beyond the substantial lump sum payments typically seen from title sales. If game studios took a percentage of the sales or auction action—perhaps even going so far as to issue 1099 forms as needed much in the way casinos might—the end result would be a net gain all around. It would be interesting to see if more studios got involved in the capitalist action, but until then, at least enterprising souls have Roblox on hand.

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