Working paper # 3/2022

Roblox and the Market for Virtual Experiences


W. Hardy, M. Paliński, S. Rożynek, ROBLOX AND THE MARKET FOR VIRTUAL EXPERIENCES, DELab Working Paper 3/2022, Warsaw 2022.


Digi­tal enter­ta­in­ment moves away from one-time events and games towards susta­ina­ble expe­rien­ces that can be sha­red with others. The­se types of vir­tu­al eco­sys­tems also sup­port the­ir own eco­no­mies with exchan­ge of vir­tu­al cur­ren­cy, digi­tal items and user-gene­ra­ted con­tent. One such plat­form is Roblox, which as of April 2021 had more than 200 mil­lion uni­que users mon­th­ly. Roblox is a plat­form for vir­tu­al expe­rien­ces built by the par­ti­ci­pa­ting com­mu­ni­ty. It also faci­li­ta­tes events ran­ging from in-plat­form con­certs of esta­bli­shed arti­sts to fashion shows with bran­ded items. We pro­vi­de the first quan­ti­ta­ti­ve stu­dy of this eco­sys­tem, ana­ly­sing the deter­mi­nants of vir­tu­al expe­rien­ces’ popu­la­ri­ty using data on tho­usands of in-plat­form titles, and trac­king some of them over time. We build upon the lite­ra­tu­re on suc­cess of and enga­ge­ment in video games and the much deba­ted meta­ver­se con­cept. Our results show that fre­qu­ent expe­rien­ce upda­tes and incen­ti­ves in the form of bad­ges or in-game items are cru­cial for a vir­tu­al expe­rien­ce to grow and susta­in an acti­ve play­er base. Inte­re­stin­gly, the maxi­mum num­ber of play­ers in an expe­rien­ce instan­ce and the and the often-discus­sed inte­ro­pe­ra­bi­li­ty of expe­rien­ces are less impor­tant than expected.

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