Roblox, a popular online game with 56 million players,
will let Xbox One gamers play with their friends on smartphones
and PCs, starting later this week.
Microsoft helped Roblox build the feature —
despite the fact that Roblox is a chief competitor to
Microsoft’s own Minecraft.
CEO David Baszucki also hints that
versions for the Nintendo Switch or Sony PlayStation 4 could be
in the pipeline, though he says their focus is currently
Roblox, a massively popular online game, is giving its
Microsoft Xbox One fans an early Halloween treat: Starting later
this week, Roblox gamers on the Xbox One will be able to
play with their friends on PCs and smartphones.
Previously, Roblox users on the Xbox One could only play with
each other. Meanwhile, Roblox has let smartphones, tablets, and
PCs all play together in harmony for years now. With this update,
the Xbox One joins the fun.
Now, if you’re older than, say, 15, there’s a healthy chance
you’ve never heard of Roblox — a free online game,
especially popular with kids. All of the games on Roblox are
created by players, for players, and sold on a free-to-play
turning a few lucky teens into video game millionaires.
So far, Roblox is available for Xbox One, PCs, smartphones,
tablets, and virtual reality headsets, but Roblox CEO
David Baszucki tells Business Insider that the
company is considering making versions for consoles like the Sony
PlayStation 4 or Nintendo Switch, too — though it’s not
necessarily where Roblox’s focus lies at the moment.
“It’s natural to assume Roblox will be on more and more
platforms,” says Baszucki.
So what is Roblox, and where does Microsoft come in?
two games are very different, Roblox competes for much
the same demographic as Minecraft, the
phenomenon that Microsoft paid $2.5 billion to acquire in
2014. However, Roblox actually has slightly more players at
the moment, 56 million monthly active users to Minecraft’s last
reported 55 million.
Which makes it a little funny that Microsoft actually helped
Roblox to accomplish the feat of getting this cross-platform play
running. According to Roblox CEO David Baszucki, Microsoft
came in and helped the company smooth out the technical wrinkles
involved in letting the Xbox One “talk” to Roblox players on
“They’ve welcomed us as if we were a completely neutral
partner,” says Baszucki. He sees it as “a testament to
Microsoft’s vision under [CEO] Satya [Nadella] as being part of a
more connected world.”
In fact, Baszucki says that Microsoft helped bring
Roblox to the Xbox One in the first place. Because all the games
and characters on Roblox are generated and sold by players for
real money, it presented a tricky challenge: the Xbox One wasn’t
really built for letting players swap and sell their own
Baszucki says Microsoft worked with them to figure out a
solution, growing from a small, curated selection of games and
content into a full-fledged version of the core marketplace. Now
Roblox’s developers have a real opportunity to make money from
Xbox gamers, while simultaneously giving those gamers more games
to play for free.
“It’s gonna make Roblox much more fun,”
Cross-play is a Microsoft passion project
Microsoft has called for an online gaming amnesty, urging
developers and publishers to make it possible for Xbox owners to
play with Nintendo Switch, Sony PlayStation, and Windows PC
players. It would knock down one of the oldest
barriers in online gaming.
The company put its money where its mouth is, too, with a
recent update to Minecraft that allows for cross-play between
Apple iOS, Android, the Xbox 360, the Xbox One, Windows 10, and
even the Nintendo Switch. However,
Sony has yet to play ball — a problem that Roblox isn’t
facing, at least not yet, given that there’s no PlayStation
Still, that makes it little wonder that Microsoft would
play ball. Besides, anything that makes Roblox better for Xbox
One gamers is going to help Microsoft sell more Xbox consoles
this holiday season.