Roblox are now offering artificial intelligence (AI) tools to speed up game development. Could this be a win for the players and a loss for developers?
Roblox is a hugely popular game, by anyone’s standards. By the end of last year, it had 58.8 million daily active users, with monthly active users reaching 202 million.
For those of you who don’t know Roblox, it’s one of the most widely used gaming platforms for Gen Z; they can create their own games and invite their friends to participate. Most people, however, simply play trending games with their friends or with randoms on the platform.
The game-building part of Roblox is a wildly popular endeavour — Roblox has 9.5 million developers on its platform. If their games are popular, then developers can cash in. Roblox community developers earned almost $328 million last year.
Why create a game on Roblox?
Think of it like this: have you ever played a game and thought, “I wish this game had this feature”, or “I wish this game was about something else”? When you create a game on Roblox, you can make it exactly how you want it to be.
It’s like the older-kid version of building with Lego. You can use all sorts of different pieces to create something unique. When people make a game on Roblox, they get to use their imagination and creativity to design the game world, characters, as well as the rules. And once the game is finished, other people can play it and enjoy it too.
Large brands like Disney, Marvel, Kelloggs Fruit Loops, Gucci, Nike and Vans are among the developers building new worlds on the platform to engage with a younger audience.
Roblox uses a virtual currency called Robux, which can be used to purchase in-game items, enabling developers to make money from their games.
AI and Roblox
As of this week, things have changed for developers, after Roblox announced they are adding generative AI. This means that anyone can develop games and assets, without having to know how to write code.
When companies like Disney create games on Roblox, the developers who create the games are typically paid by the companies themselves, not by Roblox. With the arrival of the Roblox AI, will their job will be easier? Or obsolete?
Here is the demo on how the generative AI is expected to work.
What the Roblox AI can do
The AI tool allows anyone to create buildings, terrain, avatars and change the appearance and behaviour of things, all by typing in words instead of complex code.
The plan is to make it so that anyone can create cool 3D objects and other content without needing to have a lot of technical skill.
For example, if someone wants to create a car in a virtual world, they can just say, “I want a red sports car” and the AI will make it happen. This will help make the platform more accessible to everyone, rather than only those who know how to use complex tools like Roblox Studio.
The company’s Chief Technology Officer Daniel Sturman shared, “With the advent of generative AI techniques, we are seeing an opportunity to revolutionise creation on the platform, both by augmenting Roblox Studio to make creation dramatically faster and easier, and also by enabling every user on Roblox to be a creator.”
He says that some creators know how to code but may have limited experience creating high-fidelity 3D models. “Others may be more experienced with model design, but less experienced with code. In both cases, we see a future in which even a beginner (such as myself for example – I’m a terrible artist!) can get a running head start as they look to bring their imagination to life in a Roblox experience.”
Will AI take developer jobs?
The new tools mean that creators can make 3D objects that come with behaviour built in. Says Sturman, “A creator could design a car through a simple statement such as ‘A red, two seater, convertible sports car with front-wheel drive’. This new creation would both look like a red sports car but also have all the behaviour coded into it to be driven through a 3D virtual world.”
Sturman also thinks that the AI community will become more involved with the Roblox platform. “If you develop an AI model that builds the most expressive superhero characters based on a combination of text prompts, graphical queues, and photo examples, that capability is something you should be able to offer directly to those Roblox users who want an incredible superhero avatar.”
The first priority though, says Sturman, is keeping users safe, something that every platform struggles with. And especially with such a young audience, this remains paramount.
Will this speed up game development? Or lead to developers without jobs? We will probably know way before we want to, and so will the developers.