Developers shouldn't bear the cost of uploading audio

We are always trying to break down barriers and costs to development. As of right now, we have no plans to address this issue but we recognize its importance.

Thank you for this feature request. It has been shared around internally.

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As a Roblox developer, it is currently too hard to upload audio.

The cost for uploading sounds, even in its current state, is still too high for development.
I can upload large meshes (usually larger than the audio), images, animations, and more, for free. Why not audio?

Multiple solutions that Roblox can implement exists, and are as follows:

  1. Create an option to find duplicate sounds (because most sounds probably have been uploaded already).
    This would increase space saved, as two uploads would not be made.
  2. Make free audio game-specific (as in it cannot be used anywhere else).
    This would prevent abusive audio entering other games or being used as a third-party account evading a ban.
  3. Remove the cost entirely.

Many times I’ve wanted to upload my own audio, to find that it will drain away Robux. Any Indie development teams I work with must spend money on audio if the sound does not exist.

Ever since audio became impossible to search for (unlisted audio cannot be found, and most audio is unlisted), I’ve found myself increasingly more required to upload the sounds I want to use for my game.

Other game development platforms do not have this restriction.

Changes were recently made to the Roblox Community Rules which now include banning the use of screamer or loud joke audio:

Distorted audio, including excessively slowing down or speeding up the audio content to make it indiscernible, and audio that is excessively loud including screaming, high-pitched or excessive noises are not permitted.

This change now reduces the amount of spam audio uploaded, which should additionally provide another reason to make audio free, as spam audio is against the rules, meaning less uploads for moderators to review, and less space being taken up.

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This would incentivize people to not share sound effects and would mean everyone has to spend more time making their own.

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The rule against what type of audio is allowed will not entirely prevent people from uploading audio that isn’t allowed. Moderators will still have to review these kinds of audio. And unlike other content, which can be reviewed with a simple glance, audio takes time as the moderator has to listen to the entire thing. They did curve this by making shorter audio cost less. But I still think audio should have a price to upload. If they didn’t, there will be a huge jump in audio submissions, and who knows if it will be abused by bots who do the same thing as uploading the same shirt over and over in those scam clothing groups.

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That’s one option I provided for the Roblox Dev team to use, if they cared specifically about it. I’m not saying all options are necessary.

Currently, already people cannot use audio that has not been shared. If it has not been ticked “made free”, then it is unlisted and unsearchable. Your concern is already active, and in-place. By default, it’s already not checked.

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Your reply is invalid when speaking about “will not entirely prevent people from uploading”, as anyone technically upload any image, or design they want, even if it’s NSFW. This rule, preventing meme or spam audio, would mean future users who want to create meme audio will be hit by the audio being unapproved most of the time. Most typical users then would give up or not create the audio.

Bots spam-creating audio wouldn’t make any sense, as the shirt abusers are meant for selling. Audio is not sold.

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What I meant was players can still break rules and attempt to upload audio that isn’t allowed. Moderation still has to listen to everything uploaded. Not sure if there is an automation thing where it checks if an audio has been uploaded before. As for bots abusing this “wouldn’t make sense” yea I agree, but the possibility would be open to them in the case that audio was made free to upload.

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At least make sound effects that are <15 seconds free to upload. Seriously. Games use so many sound effects, we already have to pay authors for libraries of sounds, then we have to pay Roblox to upload them so they’re usable on their platform. This is unheard of in any other game engine.

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Is there any word on the price of audios potentially being removed? The fee has pretty much completely stopped me from uploading audios due to the limitations.

I understand the argument that it takes a lot of time to moderate audios, however I have heard that Roblox audio is potentially partially if not completely reviewed automatically by now.

If the fee on audio uploads was removed, I know that I’d personally have so much more freedom to perfect the sound design on my games, and would make things like voice acting much more affordable.

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Roblox could invest in machine learning for audio moderation that could possibly eliminate the need for human moderators in most cases.

YouTube is already using machine learning to remove inappropriate videos:

More than 95% of YouTube videos removed within the past few months were detected by AI moderation.

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Although it’d be a huge burden off my shoulders, I just don’t see it being reasonable. The price and difficulty to moderate correlate. A mod could whiz through well over 300 decals per hour but can only do 8 audios that are 7 mins long each.

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Couldn’t careless if the price gets removed or changed but It would be so much better if moderators didn’t reject legitimate Sound files that are innocent, better asset manager and faster approval times.

A pay wall doesn’t necessarily block users with ill intent and often blocks legitimate users

Uploading Sounds to Roblox is such a pain, it stops us from making better games and at it’s current state I have to say that it’s underwhelming.

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Just uploaded two audio assets, both with a duration of 1 second per asset. It costed me 40 Robux to upload these two assets.
For a top developer, this doesn’t really matter. For smaller developers (like me), it does.

I understand that it is not realistic to make all lengths of audio files free to upload. However, files that are <15 seconds should be entirely free to upload. If this still takes too much time for a moderator review it, make them free if they’re <5 seconds. This stands equal to the time to review an image.

TL;DR Please don’t let me pay 20R$ for a file with the duration of 1 or 2 seconds.

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Last month, another thread was made regarding audio upload costs in #development-discussion that garnered quite a bit of attention. You can find my post on that thread here.

While my perspective is limited to that of an end-user, I wholly understand the difficulty of scaling human moderation to match the rate of asset uploads on a platform as enormous as Roblox, but considering Roblox’s plans for expanding the range of supported media to include video and with the perception that AI is growing more capable of analyzing the content of media (such as Google’s Cloud Vision), I think it could be a strategy worth exploring.

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The amount of times I’ve seen “what if” in the same sentence as “account ban” is incredible. There are so many other ways your account can get banned. Audio bans are relatively rare compared to the multitude out there (old shirts, old games, etc). The fact of the matter is that most account bans that happen in these types of cases are due to a change in policy or an asset being marked as a false-positive. For your account to get banned these days outside of an asset or games being marked as a false positive, you’d have to willingly give your account information away. Unfortunately for some users, that’s how you learn.

Outside of that, I think that audio should retain a fee. There’s a couple reasons why and I’ll go ahead and list them out for whoever reads this.

Audio takes up a lot of space. Especially when you don’t want to sacrifice quality. Space when at the scale of millions of users costs a lot of money to sustain and to host. Storage space doesn’t magically appear in thin air. Most of the time (at this scale), cost is charged per GB. If you multiply this with the amount of user’s per month who upload audio, Roblox would be spending a lot towards storage cost/capacity which would most likely end up as a loss. Y’all have to take into account that Roblox functions primarily based on the cloud and in order to keep the cloud running, you need to fuel it with money. While this is most definitely a major inconvenience, having worked and implemented @ a company that deals with similar data & costs, it makes a lot of sense once you understand the technicality of the issue.

tl;dr - Having user’s pay for audio to be uploaded to help offset the cost is completely reasonable simply because storage space costs money & audio files take up quite a bit of space.

For those interested, here’s a rough estimate on pricing from a few companies that are in this space and are heavily utilized. The numbers may seem low but, if you do your math correctly & scale it based on what this platform scales to, you can definitely see how costly it could be.







Example pricing for GCloud:

(All images above account for one database instance)
(Estimated costs are meant to look cheap to draw consumers in; digital marketing101)

The cost of every other game engine in terms of licensing fees and server costs are nowhere near as cheap as Roblox short and long term. In addition, Roblox is primarily on the cloud where the ecosystem is locked and you forfeit control, features and graphic enhancements. Other engines are primarily based on the filesystem where you can develop freely on your machine, store your code wherever and publish it to more than one digital store or domain (console, mobile, etc). This is why Roblox has traction is because it takes very little effort to make a game and if you do, the net-loss is not nearly as much as if you were to do it elsewhere on more professional space. I would like more control as would anyone else but, in fairness, you do get a lot for free out of the box compared to anywhere else. Unity & Unreal are starting to become more lenient for hobbyists but, it’s still not quite there yet.

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Those cost tables for data hosting companies aren’t relevant, since Roblox is not a pay-as-you-go cloud data hosting company that profits directly from data hosting fees.

The difference is that on Roblox, developers drive the revenue, 75% of which goes directly to Roblox and is used for things such as server hosting costs, and research and development of the engine.

You aren’t recognizing that developers already generate the revenue that keeps the servers hosted. Roblox is certainly cloud heavy, but it’s not a service that we are unfairly expecting of them for free since the cost of Roblox’s data hosting is already baked into the Developer Exchange rate.

For this reason it’s totally reasonable to expect costless audio uploading. It’s one of two glaring inconsistencies in the business model (video thumbnails being the other).

Roblox chooses to host this data because it is more convenient for the developers to not have to worry about creating their own data hosting infrastructure, and developers indirectly pay through the nose for that convenience. That’s what makes Roblox insanely accessible to fledgling developers. In fact, it’s the entire point of their business model. Keeping those barriers down is the reason for this feature request.

When you compare Roblox to other popular game design engines where developers earn upwards of 98% of the revenue driven by their game, you immediately understand why Roblox developers only earn 25%- because they don’t need to host their own servers, cloud data, etc. Because of that cost to developers I believe this feature request is completely justified. They are different companies and should not be compared along this particular axis.

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Discussing operational costs from the perspective of us as developers is a bit moot because we don’t have information on what storage solutions they use, how much of their hardware is in-house vs cloud, etc.

I personally think the one-time moderation cost in terms of human resources is probably higher than any storage costs they pay for the assets over a period of multiple years. Storage tends to be super-cheap both in the cloud and on-premise. I don’t think storage costs is a relevant argument against this for that reason, but again none of the people here have the insight to make this decision.

This really is a value/cost proposition for Roblox to make – only thing we can do from our end is emphasize how much we would benefit from dropping audio upload costs, which I think Soybeen does quite well in the first post here.

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I remember seeing a chart posted by Roblox in 2019 that broke down Roblox’s expenditures into fairly even 25% splits between Developer Exchange, moderation, server hosting, and engine research and development.

Of course that could have changed, and you’re right that we can’t know how expensive it is for Roblox to store and moderate audio specifically, but I’d imagine the moderation cost is the bigger of the two- probably not the cloud data hosting. I’m basing that assumption off the fact that the fee for Roblox to review a 30-second YouTube video for game thumbnails is the only other paywall on the platform at 500 R$, even though it doesn’t require Roblox to store any media.

You make valid claims. I agree with you with most of what you stated. I could’ve sworn that Roblox used AWS at one point. Where did you get this though?

At least historically, Roblox used AWS for the website. There is definitely a cost to data storage regardless if it’s in house or 3rd party, but I’m assuming the bulk of the audio upload paywall is probably due to the cost of human moderation and not storage, since storage is pretty cheap.

Depends on which game engine you’re using and whether or not they charge royalties at all. If you use Unreal Engine you’ll only have to pay 5% royalties after your game earns more than $1,000,000. If you use Unity you may not have to pay anything other than the software licensing fee. Of course with both examples you’re responsible for hosting your own game servers, asset storage, etc, which makes them less comparable to Roblox.

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