Roblox goes to PlayStation and unveils immersive 3D avatar and voice communication

Roblox goes to PlayStation and unveils immersive 3D avatar and voice communication

Roblox announced that it will head to the PlayStation at last in October. On top of that, Roblox is launching fully on the Meta Quest in September.

Those are some big events which should help the company grow beyond its current 65.5 million daily active users. They are online an average of 2.3 hours a day. In 2022, more than 15 million people visited learnin experiences, said Dave Baszucki, CEO of Roblox, in a keynote speech today at the Roblox Developer Conference at Fort Mason in San Francisco.

Thirteen and up is up 33% from a year ago. Brazil has 5.4 million daily active users. The goal is to reach a billion people, he said. There are 17.3 million new friendships a day. Ages 17 to 24 is the fastest-growing demographics on Roblox.

The average bookings for creators is $27 million per year. The top 100 developers are making nearly $1 million a year, up 2.2 times from a year ago. The No. 1,000 developer makes $60,000 a year. About 20,000 on Roblox are making more than $750 a year.

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“That’s an amazing stat,” Baszucki said.

Dave Baszucki,, CEO of Roblox, at RDC 2023 in San Francisco.

In the first five days on the Meta Quest in beta form, Roblox saw more than one million downloads of the open beta. With Sony, Roblox will be on both PS4 and PS5.

“This gives our creators yet another platform for which people can consume all their experiences. And we’re really excited about this. We think it’s an incredible opportunity for our creators and for our users,” said Dan Sturman, CTO of Roblox, in an interview with GamesBeat. “I’ll say this happened remarkably smoothly and PlayStation has been an outstanding partner in making this happen and getting to launch.”

Sturman said that Roblox used to have a different code base for every platform. But now it has one code base for seven platforms, including PlayStation. With a possible explosion of devices in AR and VR, Sturman said the company feels very well prepared to move to new platforms. He said Roblox has grown from 36,000 servers in 2021 to 135,000 servers now, or four times as many.

Roblox also announced that it is launching later this year Roblox Connect, a communications experience where you can talk via voice with someone using 3D-animated avatars.

Roblox Connect live at RDC 2023.

It’s an immersive 3D communications experience that the company will open source for its creator community. The company, which has 66.1 million monthly active users, is initially showcasing what’s possible with the technological expansion of deeper, richer 3D immersive communication.

“We’re focused right now on three main themes around making that vision come true, which is why we want to be an immersive platform for communication and connection,” said Sturman. “That’s always been a big part of Roblox, coming together, not just coming for gameplay or experiencing things. A platform that’s available from anywhere on any device has always been a big part of our value proposition as well. You can just consume Roblox however, wherever you want, and a vibrant virtual economy, where anyone can participate.”

Roblox has come to the Quest and is coming in October to the PlayStation.

Developers will be able to take Roblox’s tech and use it in their applications. Sturman said this is a natural evolution of Roblox, where everyday communication with your friends and family is immersive and easy to use.

There are already a variety of ways to connect and communicate on Roblox like notifications, contact invites, and chat. Now, it is adding an immersive call to the toolkit that provides a sense of togetherness you don’t get from a video call — and without the constraints of the real world.

With Roblox Connect, people can call a friend who’s on their Roblox friends list using their real name and facial expressions and convey nuance with their own body language—and be transported to a shared immersive space for their conversation, sitting together by a campfire or standing beside a waterfall.

Sturman explained that this works using sensors such as a webcam to capture and convey your reactions to the other person.

For users, this creates deeper interaction that feels more like being together somewhere – your expressions, your voice and your movements. Plus, this is an opportunity to have spontaneous communication.

Dan Sturman, CTO of Roblox, at RDC 2023.

Sturman said suppose he wants to make an avatar call to his aunt. He goes to Roblox Connect and picks the avatar he wants to use, which is a white sport suit avatar. Then he picks an environment to match his aunt’s tastes, like the library of an old manor in the English countryside. It will have books on the wall and overstuffed furniture and a crackling fireplace. He calls the aunt from his contact list.

She answers the call and connects. She joins in her avatar and they both sit in the chairs. The room has good lighting, and they can talk and see each other’s facial expressions via the avatars and know how the other is reacting.

“We get to pick our avatars and be where we want to be, but it’s a shared space,” he said. “It’s not like you and I are doing a call in your office.”

They use an AI model running in the Roblox client to capture your facial expressions via the webcam. This is a lot more efficient than transmitting video around the world and it preserves a measure of privacy, as the images don’t go to a Roblox server or cloud. It also adapts to the power of the device you are using.

For the initial launch, users can call friends on their Roblox friends list. When you pick it up, you’ll join your friend directly in Roblox to start an immersive conversation – with your avatar, real expressions, real movement, and real voice.

As of now, you’ll be able to choose different locations from the forest or beach – where you can connect with your friends or family at a campfire, dock, cabana, island, waterfall or bonfire.

For developers, an application programming interface (API) supports building experiences for communication enabling synchronous avatar communication into any experience on Roblox. Roblox is offering a suite of API’s and functionality to support developers to build experiences for communication and connection.

AI Assistant

Roblox is catching the generative AI wave.
Roblox is catching the generative AI wave.

Roblox is also announcing Assistant, a conversational AI that makes creation on Roblox more accessible and empowers advanced creators to build richer, more engaging experiences faster. It takes the grind out of development, Sturman said.

Sturman believes availability for Roblox Assistant will probably be by the end of the year or early next year. He did a demo of it working on stage.

Assistant helps across the three phases of creation: learning, building, and coding. The technology will help creators build faster, iterate more, and augment their skills to create even better content, Sturman said.

Working with Assistant is collaborative and iterative, creators can provide feedback, and Assistant will work to provide the right solution. If you are looking for a tent, it will go out on the Roblox marketplace and find several different kinds of tents you could use, Sturman said.

“It’s just an Assistant to help me build a world better. And we think this has incredible potential to reduce friction for new creators on the platform,” Sturman said. “It dramatically accelerates existing creators on the platform.”

Previously, the company announced Code Assist, an AI assistant in Studio Script Editor that suggests lines or functions of code as developers type, helping them code more efficiently and stay focused.

Compared to a previous autocomplete solution, Roblox saw a two-fold increase in the amount of inserted code. Developers using our Code Assist are getting double the amount of code inserted into their experience, saving them time and effort.

Roblox AI Assistant.

Also, Roblox previously created a new material generator for an existing object like changing a car color to a metallic blue. Developers using the material generator beta created 50% more physically based rendering (PBR) materials than those not using material generator.

That means material generator made it faster and easier for developers to adapt materials.

To lower the costs of the generative AI, Roblox has implemented tools such as distillation, where you take a large language model (LLM) and you take out some of the functionality as you don’t need it for every kind of query. Roblox also does quantizing, where it reduces the complexity of the floating-point math. And Roblox does more inferencing on the CPUs based on how the data centers are laid out.

Expanding creation

Clothing on Roblox.

As a step toward making it possible for anyone on Roblox to participate in the game economy, later this month, Roblox is inviting anyone who is ID-verified and has premium status to create 3D items in the Roblox marketplace.

What’s changing? Before this expansion, only UGC Program members could create 3D items.

It’s doing this because participation is the dynamic that powers the company’s economic flywheel: more creators make more content that people discover and buy, which leads to more opportunities for creators. Roblox cares about creating a marketplace with content that people love and where creativity is protected.

Safeguards

Roblox is full of marketplace items.

Roblox is also implementing safeguards that allow it to open the marketplace in a safe and civil way.

This includes ID verification, bringing more accountability to creators and publishing requirements that create incentives to motivate creators to publish things that they believe will sell.

“Safety is what separates us from the chaos that is the rest of the internet,” Sturman said.

He said Roblox won’t stop dealing with hackers and exploits until devs don’t have to worry about it at all. Roblox is creating APIs for devs for verification, banning, and text-filter level ratings. It will use voice moderation at scale to warn players about saying bad words and more in voice chat.

Roblox believes that the larger and more diverse our community is, the better it can fulfill the vision of offering something for everyone on the marketplace – enabling more self-expression across Roblox.

Avatars let people represent their identity and how they want to be seen on Roblox, so the company wants users to be able to create a wide range of skin tones, body sizes, hair colors, textures, and styles to enable self-expression. You can check out the 2022 Metaverse Fashion Trends’ Report that highlights the importance of self-expression on Roblox.

Subscriptions within experiences

Roblox avatar dressing up.

Roblox is also building the tools for developers to create recurring subscriptions within their experience. This will be available later this year, said Manuel Bronstein, chief product officer at Roblox, at RDC.

The vision is to empower creators with the flexibility to build subscription-based offerings and business models — ultimately, Roblox wants them to be able to monetize in the way they think is best for their business.

Benefits to developers? This will help them to establish a recurring economic relationship with their users and potentially increase the predictability of their earnings. It will also help ensure users have a steady flow of content that’s relevant to them.

Roblox sees a future where it will be able to support creators who want to launch offerings such as: digital avatar “trunk clubs”; licenses for education experiences; and member-only fan clubs.

Updates to creator marketplace

Roblox Collaboration render

Next year, Roblox plans to update the creator marketplace fees to enable asset and tool creators to keep 100% of the proceeds from the sale of their items—excluding tax and payment processing fees, Bronstein said.

“This is the highest revenue share in the market today” and it will lead to an amazing fly wheel early next year, he said.

The creator marketplace showcases the power of community – where users can find all assets that are by the creator community, for the creator community. These are tools to use within their experiences, such as models, images, meshes, audio, fonts, videos, and plugins.

Also coming next year is the ability for developers to sell models in addition to plugins, and a change to buy and sell assets in U.S. dollars instead of Robux, thus eliminating any Roblox platform fees.

Bronstein said 955 experiences crossed 5 million visits, 542 crossed 10 million visits and 30 crossed 100 million visits. Fifty five have crossed a billion visits. There are more than 11 billion impressions a day.

Avatar Outfit Creator saw 27% of earnings come in from immersive ads, Bronstein said.

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