The VC frenzy surrounding online social games is rolling onwards. Today, Roblox announced a $4 million injection from Altos Ventures and First Round Capitol.
Roblox is a 3D block-building online game aimed at children, with a heavy skew towards boys. Players create characters and artifacts within the game world, play with them, and share their creations.
I spoke to David Baszucki, CEO and founder of Roblox. He said the company would use some of the funding to acquire new users. "The primary acquisition vector is word of mouth. A lot of kids come to play before they have even opened a Facebook account so we know it's very traditional word of mouth, on the playground. As part of our investment we're exploring accelerating our user acquisition through traditional channels, where kids can safely be reached."
Roblox claims over 5.7 million unique visitors and 650 million page views per month, with 19 million hours of playtime a month. Since its launch way back in 2006 it has notched up 250,000 paid customer transactions, with a model of free-to-play and premium subscription. The company says revenues are up 75 percent year-on-year.
Free-to-play relies on avid fans for monetization and Roblox is no different. However, with kids as its target audience, it relies on pester power to get parents reaching for the credit card.
Baszucki says, "We don't see the impulse buy, they don't pull out the credit card on the first day they begin playing. But the kids are so impassioned. They play for so long and they are playing in a positive way that involves building and sharing and using their imagination. When parents see that quality of experience, there is no barrier."
The game is available online via PC and Mac. Roblox says it hasn't announced "or hinted at" versions coming to Facebook, consoles or tablets but Baszucki says "those would be logical things for us to look at."
Roblox is essentially a social experience that emulates normal play-patterns. Kids come together and create imaginary worlds using whatever is on hand. Although Baszucki doesn't see social networks of the near future as three-dimensional avatar-worlds, he does see kids using these arenas to play and socialize. "Kids spend a lot of time imagining they are medieval knights or pirates or space pilots and we are creating 3D experiences that allow kids to browse through different play experiences as they play together."
He adds, "Roblox is really inspired by the building and sharing play pattern. It's a physically simulated online world but all of the content and the experiences are user created. They are played with and by the same kids that create them."