Expanding on its vision for the metaverse, leading gaming platform Roblox announced a suite of new features around creators and artificial intelligence late last week.
The platform’s new additions appear to bolster opportunities for marketers to drive loyalty, such as through a new, in-game subscription service and more immersive social capabilities. 

The new feature, entitled Roblox Connect, will allow players to speak with each other, inside the platform, as their avatars. The characters will mimic the voice and facial expressions of a player as picked up by the camera and microphone on their desktop or mobile device, minimizing the need for external communication that could potentially take a player out of the immersive environment.

Another addition revolves around Limiteds, which are virtual accessories—clothing, bodies, heads—that users can create and publish as a limited quantity, and even re-sell once purchased. The feature first launched in April to members of Roblox’s user-generated content (UGC) program, and is now expanding to all creators.

Christina Wootton, Roblox’s chief partnerships officer has also used focused buzzwords like ‘scarcity’ and ‘utility’ which are familair in web3 specifically within the NFT scene. But whereas crypto-backed tokens have struggled to find a way into popular gaming and metaverse platforms, Limiteds could find an immediate demand with Roblox’s 60-plus million user base.

The reasons for staying away from crypto are varied, including issues relating to child and brand safety. But Roblox’s Web3 lacuna may be more easily explained by a simple lack of need for blockchain technology.

At Wishu, we have been passionate for a while about the need to utilize blockchain and web3 tech benefits without mentioning the off-putting key words such as ‘crypto’, ‘NFT’, ‘degen’, or ‘decentralized’. “No 12- or 16- or 22-year-old is asking, “Why should I do this without blockchain?” said Joe Ferencz, founder and chief executive of metaverse game developer Gamefam, which develops Roblox games.  

Another rather substantive feature announced by Roblox allows creators to offer subscriptions within their experiences. No longer will users have to pay in Robux, Roblox’s native currency, upon each entry, but instead can buy into a recurring economic relationship with their favorite creators. 

The earnings policies surrounding Limiteds further indicate Roblox’s desire to fuel economic opportunities in its platform. For every mint, or the first time an accessory is published, the creator receives at least a 60% cut of the corresponding sale. For every re-sale, the creator will receive a 10% royalty fee, and the re-seller will receive a 30% cut of the sale.

Royalty fees have long been touted as an advantage of NFTs, a theoretical attraction to a creator economy that is often exploited on centralized platforms. But this promise has turned out to be a bust as NFT marketplaces have eliminated royalties in order to boost sales in a depressed market.

Just how similarly Limiteds could function as NFTs will depend on the emergence of a secondary marketplace, said Ferencz. Reselling of Limiteds appears to be solely available to premium users at the moment, but given the way in which Roblox tends to expand access over time, that may soon change. 

Another way that Roblox is vying for creators, and in so doing, consumers and brands, is by appearing on more consoles. The platform announced on Friday that it will be supported on PlayStation by October. 

Meanwhile, generative AI is a rising focus for Roblox, given the technology’s ability to democratize content creation. Roblox announced on Friday the launch of Assistant, a conversational bot that, resembling ChatGPT, will aim to help creators develop their experiences more quickly and efficiently.

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