As a Roblox developer, I often rely on the various resources Roblox provides its creators in order to succeed - both professionally and personally. From Roblox’s servers, to their provided analytics, to their educational talks - all serve to help developers grow, and eventually transition from having small teams to massive profitable companies.
Adding onto this, Roblox has also often spoken about its core values, most notably:
- “Take the long view”
- “Respect the community”
These core values exist to foster a wonderful community, platform & ultimately lead to the success of both developers and Roblox as a corporation, while building the metaverse.
However, recently Roblox has been completely abandoning its core values, and actively removing resources for developers. As a major example of this - in a recent announcement, Roblox has stated that the developer stars program is being shut down, with no replacement, to my absolute dismay - all after a year of complete dead silence & being given outdated information from the program representatives!
This is extremely problematic for myself and many others as developers, as well as for the Roblox community as a whole.
This feedback thread serves to:
- Highlight the lack of communication regarding this shutdown
- Highlight the problems with shutting down the stars program
- Highlight the negative impact this has on the community as a whole
- Highlight how the shutdown of this program goes against Roblox’s core values of “Take the long view” and “Respect the community”
- Provide arguments for its renewal in a revamped & better form
- Provide personal testimony from participants of the program
It goes without saying, communication is critically important, especially when money & brands are involved (be it companies or individuals). Many games & developers have had toys and other merchandise created from their game characters & avatars, and many youtube channels have been created revolving around showcasing the release of new toys. As such, any impactful changes regarding the program and any available merch can be very consequential if there is no notice given in advance. So surely Roblox should actively communicate with all parties involved when changes are occuring, right?
Unfortunately, the stars program did the exact opposite of this. It would often not communicate with its participants, and was often late on payments. Any communication that was given, was often short and vague.
As an example of this - a year ago, I sent the stars program an email inquiring about when the next wave of submissions would open, since I had an awesome pitch that I put a lot of time, money and effort into that I wished to submit. I was told, “We are still pending our reach out, we will inform you when we are ready”. Does this read as “We haven’t reached out because we are in the process of shutting down the program”? No! Typical PR responses like this led myself and others to believe the program was simply experiencing a hiccup.
People who have emailed the program regarding their royalty payments, have gotten no response at all, and have received no revenue. I personally know a handful of developers who had no idea what was going on with their royalties, and only found out through the program shutdown announcement, over a year later.
This is extremely disrespectful to those involved, and directly goes against the “RESPECT THE COMMUNITY” pillar that Roblox established many years ago.
Overall, the complete lack of communication regarding the impending shutdown of this program is utterly unacceptable, and only adds to the pile of communication issues Roblox has been having with its developer community.
As with many programs on Roblox, the stars program served as a massive opportunity for smaller developers. It created an olive branch and opened doors to merchandise & licensing opportunities that would otherwise be nearly impossible to achieve for smaller developers on the platform. Creating toys/merch & distributing them globally is simply not possible for non multi-million dollar companies. Licensing partners often won’t be interested in working with small studios! The stars program gave games & developers with a few thousand CCU & a small team of 1-3 people an opportunity to have toys & amazon merchandise created from their game, that their fans could purchase & enjoy! This was exposure & revenue that would massively help smaller studios gain upward momentum alongside the traction of their experiences. Surely, this would provide a good reason to keep the program going, right?
This was the reason we were given by Roblox regarding the shutdown of the program:
This is simply not true! This only benefits large developers, who, in quite a few cases, have already benefitted from the stars program. How is this “giving power to creators”? It’s only benefitting the top 10%, while actively harming the bottom 90%. It closes more doors than opens, and it’s just one of many moves Roblox has made as of late (see : roblox killing smaller developers through discovery) that does more harm than good for the developer community as a whole. The entire purpose of the stars program, and many other programs, is to help smaller studios & developers become big studios / developers in situations where it would otherwise not be possible. Smaller developers being helped into becoming larger developers, longer term, is greatly beneficial to the platform as a whole (“TAKE THE LONG VIEW”). A small studio or developer getting a merch opportunity from Roblox can mean the difference between the next big success on the platform, and failing.
Furthermore : How are developers supposed to make toys from the R6 / R15 characters now?
This is problematic for both game characters and developer toys. In Roblox’s updated ToS, usage of R6 / R15 characters is strictly forbidden. A vast majority of games on the platform use R15 characters, quite a few which use catalog assets in some form.
The only way to get merchandise with these factors was through stars. So now, yet again, both big & small developers are completely blocked. Roblox is completely contradicting itself here!
Roblox it seems, is effectively shutting down an incredibly useful & powerful program because “It had some issues”. Is this really taking the long view? Is this really how we build the metaverse? By simply not fixing the root issues, and instead making decisions with 0 communication that harm everyone involved?
The stars program was a huge aspect of Roblox for the community. It increased the engagement & interaction between Roblox developers and the players that enjoy their games. It gave developers one of many reasons to be passionate about developing on Roblox. It acknowledged successes on the platform. Ask any player or developer about their thoughts on Roblox game/dev toys, books, etc. The most common response you will get will be “I like them!” and “I want to create one some day!”. Entire youtube channels were created around this aspect.
This was a part of Roblox’s community that will no longer exist because of the program being sunset drastically.
Furthermore, this program’s sunset, yet again, drives developers further away from the community & platform. Developers have now lost their stars program, and have functionally lost the developer awards program (it’s effectively stalled). How does this align with “RESPECT THE COMMUNITY”?
Overall, this has a very negative impact on the community. Developers, games & players can no longer create & enjoy merch & Roblox toys.
On a more personal note & some annecdotes:
I started my journey as a Roblox developer many years ago. When I was 14 or 15, I looked up to a lot of the big developers in the community. I saw developers having toys & books made out of their avatars & games. I remember thinking “Wow, maybe some day I’ll be big enough & skilled enough to make that happen!”. So, despite going through nearly impossible circumstances (nearly homeless multiple times, insane family situations, etc) that were massive obstacles to me, I worked extremely hard to get somewhere as a developer, with the hope of starting my own company, and in extension, getting into the stars program to be given the time of day like many others were given - with the hope of getting dev merch of my dragon avatar, which has been a personal symbol of mine for a long time.
During that time, I’ve contributed greatly to the platform. I’ve helped bring over 700 million visits to it, I was a top contributor here on the forums, and much more.
When I was finally accepted into the program, I put a lot of time, money and effort into an amazing pitch, only to be told “Sorry, you should have been bigger sooner” and “We are not interested in reading your pitch” by Roblox staff because the program was shutting down, while they were previously reading pitches much less elaborate. As someone who had come so far and done so much for this platform over 10 years, I felt extremely disrespected and hurt by Roblox (where’s “RESPECT THE COMMUNITY” here?).
Many developers have been motivated in the past by programs like the stars program to develop on the platform. Things like dev awards, community shoutouts, developer toys & more serve to inspire confidence in the community where there would otherwise be no confidence.
To say “I am disappointed and angry” is a massive understatement.
As outlined above, the stars program was an opportunity for many. Yes, it was problematic. Yes, it had communication issues. Yes, it wasn’t scaling well. All of these are problems that can be fixed. Simply getting rid of the program is not a solution that would work out for all in the long-term (“TAKE THE LONG VIEW”).
One of Roblox’s reasons for shutting down the program was “we’re limiting creativity”. That’s because the contracts for stars were limiting to begin with, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy! Had the contracts been revamped & the terms made less constricting for both Roblox & the involved developer(s), licensing opportunities could have flourished, and gotten more creative!
The program wasn’t super beneficial to larger companies - but it was beneficial for small / mid level developers! Perhaps the program should be changed such that certain requirements must be met for entry with game merch (game must be of a certain size, e.g. games with 500k CCU wouldn’t qualify as they’re more than capable of getting their own brand deals). Dev merch would not have these same restrictions. This allows the program to continue, while allowing it to benefit the larger community. Even if that idea isn’t great, there is something we can do to facelift the program.
Regarding the community aspect of the program - developers being spotlighted by the program was a huge community aspect that shouldn’t have been overlooked. It’s one of the things that inspired me to aim for success on the platform, among other things. Developers work hard to achieve success, that success being spotlighted was one of the things that strengthened the relationship between Roblox, it’s developers, and their players. It seems as of late that Roblox is actively disengaging with its developers, which will hurt it in the long run.
Overall, stars was problematic, but problems can be fixed. Stars should be returned with a facelift, so that it can better serve the community, and help all in the long-run.