I'm sure there are at least a few of you out there who've heard of ROBLOX. After all, as one of the largest user-generated game sites on the 'net; it's kind of a big deal, and getting bigger with each passing day. With this rapid growth in mind, the organization behind it is planning on branching out by expanding BLOXCON - ROBLOX's annual user conference. On Friday, I got the chance to speak to a few of the fine folks running the show.
First thing's first...a bit of background information.
What is ROBLOX?
"Think of ROBLOX as something of a "YouTube" for games and user-created places," explained VP Marketing and Brand Experience Brad Justus. "We provide users with the toolsets to create their own content, mostly in the lua scripting language."
As the new media revolution has driven home, people love being able to have the chance to express themselves. They love being able to get their creative pursuits out there, to have what they've created seen, enjoyed, and praised by others. ROBLOX is one of the top dogs among many hundreds of sites which host user-built games.
According to Justus, ROBLOX's core demographic calls between age eight up and age sixteen - though they've a few younger members and many older. Between them, they've created games in genres ranging from first-person shooters to MMOs to survival horror and everything beyond.
"People have a huge appetite for user-generated content," Justus continued. "Typically, we draw around 11.5 million visitors per month, with forty million hours of playtime. On-site, people spend around 70% in game, and 30% browsing the site, in forums, chatting, or simply hanging out in groups. The most popular places on the site are visited over fifteen million times each."
That's a lot of people, a lot of content, and a lot of passion. For the past two years, ROBLOX has been channeling that passion into BLOXCON - its annual user conference.
Branching Out With BLOXCON
For the past two years, the ROBLOX Corporation has been hosting BLOXCON in Silicon Valley; in the Exploratorium and Santa Clara Convention Center, respectively. It's an event entirely focused on the user - though the ROBLOX Corporation has occasionally previewed new products and applications, it's the content creators that they put in the spotlight.
In both cases, attendence was high, and in both cases, the audience demanded more.
"User feedback is a core element of ROBLOX. Through this feedback over the past two years, we've realized we've got users all over the country and the world - we've realized the need to spread out. We're packing our bags, and going to three places rather than just one, for broader exposure," explained Justus.
"This summer, we will be hosting events in Chicaco, London, and new York; on July 13, July 27, and August 10, respectively."
"In keeping with our core mission of being 'creative, cool, and geeky,' we've sought out venues that our users and their families would find interesting.Our Chicago event will be hosted at the Museum of Science and Industry, our London event on an aircraft carrier at the Royal Air Force Museum, and our New York conference will be at the Intrepid Space Museum."
Each event will be on Saturday, and will be an all-day affair beginning with a main-stage keynote/presentation. Said keynote will be a combination of a ROBLOX-led presentation and a showcase of user-generated content; different for each city. The most popular content created by users local to the venue will be selected, and the top content creators of each area will be brought in to speak at the presentation.
In addition to the main-stage presentation, there will be break-out sessions, a film festival ,and a "Blocksies" awards show. Attendees will be able to go hands-on with products, interact with staff, ask questions about a particular title or content creator, check out upcoming products and, depending on who shows up; perhaps even purchase a few user-created items.
"Tickets went on sale last Friday," continued Justus, "and they're already more than 40% sold out. They're selling far beyond expectations - we're expecting over 1,000 for each venue."
Now for the exciting part. For those users unlucky enough to be unable to attend any of the three BLOXCON events, ROBLOX will be hosting a virtual conference some time at the end of summer. As with the main events, the ROBLOX Corporation is still putting the program together and fine-tuning the details: they haven't determined product announcements or showcases, as the event is still some time away.
Justus emphasized, however, that they're making an active effort to ensure that the Virtual Conference offers something of value to its users - they're taking steps to ensure that they don't simply profile vaporware or pull out pointless announcements. Expect at least a few new products, awesome showcases and cool keynotes.
I'l be making another announcement once more details are released - for now, those of you who want to find out more can visit ROBLOX.com.