Give developers a fair DevEx rate

I’ve decided to write about my own problems regarding the DevEx rates. I know older topics exist, but not all the points I cared about were presented together, and I wished to have one that did.
(References and links may be found at the bottom)


A Relevant Story

I’ve been on Roblox about a decade now, and what always drew me here is summed up by the ad that gave a simple introduction: “Create your own world”.

Roblox certainly gave me the first inklings of being a game developer. Back then though, the idea was to learn what you could on Roblox and then do the ‘real work’ elsewhere.

Then DevEx appeared.

Suddenly, a career of game development seemed possible on the platform I played on for years. Sadly, I couldn’t get to work right away at the time for numerous reasons. However, I, together with my family, have been having doubts whether a career on Roblox is very plausible or even wise.

As a small Roblox developer, I think it’s very hard to make a living on Roblox with the current payout rate. And below is why…


The ‘Current’ Rate

According to the numbers provided on social media by several developers, Roblox currently gives developers around 18-20% (keeping 82-80%) of the revenue that the developers earn through their games.

For ease of use, I’ll round up that number to 20% (as though Roblox only keeps 80%)

If you looked at that alone, it sounds wrong: from an outsider’s point of view, you’d think the numbers should look more reversed. The whole issue can be summed up in one question:
Is Roblox really being fair to the developers who make games?

Maybe, a better question is: What should the numbers be?
I guess it’s important to figure out what each of the two parties in this issue actually do on the platform, then it’ll be a little clearer.


Hard Work Behind The Scenes

Let’s start with what Roblox does for us first, and then move on to the developers. Roblox does a lot for us developers, to be honest, and it’s important to consider. They provide:

  • An easy-to-use game development engine, completely free for use and with useful features.
  • Free server hosting, which can be expensive and inconvenient to arrange yourself outside of the platform.
  • Seamless multi-platform support, another huge boon for Devs.
  • An online platform / storefront for games, and for potential players to gather and socialize.
  • And the Robux online currency system, which has both benefits and issues [1]

There are a few others useful features, but I think you get the point.

Developers, on the other hand:

  • Create the games we all play.
  • As well as some online cosmetics like Shirts, Pants, etc.
  • Word of mouth advertising for Roblox (‘Come play my game on Roblox!’)

Without developers using the tools Roblox provides, nobody would care about any of it.

Now to be fair to Roblox, developers here have a lot of leeway to release more ‘unfinished’ games than most other platforms. Though the game industry is starting up ‘Early Access’ games (Fortnite, LEGO Worlds, and some Crowd-funded games have done this), in most cases, a released unfinished game is greatly frowned upon by the broader industry. [2]

However, Roblox does benefit from developers in other subtle (and hard to measure) ways. While you can make games for free, certain features on the site (advertising, uploading Sounds or Badges, creating Groups, etc) require the developer to pay a Robux fee. And other features (adding Gear to game, Paid Access, Game Passes, etc) take Robux in the form of a market fee =.

Finally, the only way to exchange Robux into money is if you buy a subscription to Outrageous Builder’s Club. And only as a current OBC member can you convert your Robux into cash.


The Outside Game Industry

Recently, Epic Games (the makers of Unreal Engine and Fortnite) have released their own online platform for developers to put games on. This is in deliberate competition with Valve’s Steam.

The issue comes in over how much revenue the developers get to keep:

  • Valve gives developers a 70% cut (keeping 30%)
  • Epic Games gives developers an 88% cut (keeping 12%, much less than Valve)

This has sparked a big ‘Epic Games Store VS Steam’ debate. Both of them also provide game development engines (I’ll ignore older versions):

  • Valve’s Source 2 Engine (Still under development, It’ll be exclusive to Steam. Royalties unknown.)

  • Epic’s Unreal 4 Engine (Not Exclusive to any platform. You’d normally pay 5% royalties if you make money on your games.)

    • Note: Epic says that if your game is bought on their platform, the Epic Games Store, you don’t pay their Engine royalties. [3]

The interesting thing is that these people are making a huge deal over only 18% difference, and compare it to Roblox, where we only get a 20% cut overall.

Sure, it’s important to note that the others don’t provide free servers, and the multi-platform engines out there often require paid licenses. But the fact is that they have other benefits as well. Other platforms and engines are also now competitors for Roblox developers as well.

Note: Steam is generally recognized as a very polished platform, full of useful features. But Roblox as a platform leaves a lot to be desired. The various issues (lack of community forums, the search engine, no search filters for games, the way Groups work, etc) need addressing.


Big and small developers

Given the above information, it’s important to talk about developer perspectives in all of this. Of course I can’t speak for Roblox in this post, but I hope that they can provide their own point of view (we’d all love some transparency about this).

People might think that a top developer does not need a better DevEx rate, because many people believe that these developers already get hundreds of thousands and even million dollars through DevEx. However, look at this quote by Soybeen:

Soybeen Quote (developer of Booga Booga)

Now, David Baszucki has said that they hope that 100 person teams will someday be developing games on Roblox. [4] So, they definitely want their platform to grow studios and larger teams.

The fact is that any large developer is going to see that at the current rates, it’s a lot more feasible to go make games somewhere else, and hopefully even take some of your current audience with you.

To a small-time developer, one who hasn’t even got much (if any) of an audience, the minimal percentages for DevEx are downright painful. It takes away the plausibility of even starting (especially if you’re already paying bills.) game development activities on this platform. It makes Roblox, at best, into a springboard to help you get into the ‘real’ stuff elsewhere.

Even if you get an audience here, unless you manage the higher payouts (consistently) you won’t be able to work on Roblox without branching out to other platforms. Out of necessity, this means that talented developers might be forced to leave the Roblox platform and go to another platform, or quit game development altogether. [6]


Proposed Solutions

  1. What I want, first off, is that Roblox becomes more transparent about game development and deployment financials. Tell us how much everything costs, tell us what we developers are pretty much paying for, be open to us. We’ll all appreciate that.

  2. Yes, Increase the DevEx rates. If I were to choose a number, I think something like 50% sounds much more fair. It makes it into a partnership, where both sides work together to achieve a common goal. Of course, It doesn’t have to be that way right away, but it’s something that should be worked towards.

Just remember that we as developers all love Roblox, that’s why we’re still here instead of running away to all the other engines and platforms out there. So we do want Roblox to succeed alongside us. We cannot do this however if Roblox does not give us a cut that we can financially support ourselves and our teams from to further grow our games and experiences.


Related Topics

A couple older topics along the same theme:

References

[6] Read testimonials from dozens of Devs

This topic originated from a Twitter discussion started here:


This topic isn’t, and never will be, finished. Your help by giving comments, feedback, agreement/disagreement with points, raising issues I miss, debunking misconceptions, and more would be greatly appreciated.

EDIT:

@roblox has given a reply to all the DevEx discussions out there! Thanks everybody! (Don’t let up the pressure though!

Temp EDIT2:
See my reponse to Roblox here

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This topic was automatically closed after 1 minute. New replies are no longer allowed.

Personally, I’ve never been one to really judge roblox’s devex rates, as Im thankful they even allow us to make money off of their platform.

But now that you’ve pointed out all the small details, it seems unfair that roblox gets to take a huge cut out of the work we created on their platform which makes them money. Its obvious they arent giving us enough credit for the work we made. Its almost like they are being selfish, in some cases, its like they are taking developers work for their own.

On the other hand, we must calculate how much is costs to keep robloxs services running, all those servers running 24/7 each month has got to cost quite a bit.

Then again, one aws server running, which maybe holds up to 20-30 roblox servers costs about 1-4 bucks an hour, they arent high end so lets assume like 2 bucks. Thats 48 bucks a day per server node. 48 x maybe like 20000? = $1,060,000 a day. This is just a rough estimate, but we need to be mindful of how much robloxs resources cost. Regardless, its be nice to hear an official statement.

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I see that this is a common sentiment for more senior developers, and we have to get rid of it; it’s self-deprecating to think that DevEx should be optional “handouts” like that.

We contribute a lot of content, work and energy to the platform and we shouldn’t have to feel overly grateful for it – we fully deserve any compensation for our work. We could have also contributed the work to another platform and get profit there, but we chose to do it on Roblox. If Roblox’s share feels unfair to us even taking into account all the services they provide over other platforms, we should voice those concerns.

We really don’t need to be mindful of that because we don’t run the company. If the cut feels too unfair to anyone, they should call it out. Let Roblox handle how the financials work out and if it is feasible.

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The monetary investment that my company as well as @AbstractAlex’s have had to put down to work on our games has been enormous. Roblox users, especially older users, have shown pretty clearly that they have an enormous demand for high-quality, more intricate games.

These types of games require big teams to make, and for most talented developers the current financials just don’t justify taking the leap and forming studios.

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@nenen It’s worth noting that the Unreal Engine 5% royalty is waived if you develop for the Epic Games store:

So developers working with Epic Games can get a game engine AND a storefront for only 12% of their game’s revenue.

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As someone who used to be minorly active as a developer, and deciding to come back and looking into it more seriously.

I almost feel like it’s not worth my time and effort to return to the platform at all. And if so, not as a developer. [This is a tad off-topic] With the lack of “benefits”, and income rates developers get compared to Influencers, it honestly doesn’t make me want to be a dev on this platform anymore. I’d much rather upload videos, or go elsewhere.

Although I’m primarily an artist, I have been thinking heavily about getting back into modelling and building and hopefully devexing again, but I don’t see a point with the current rates and resources from Roblox to do it, versus other platforms.

Hopefully Roblox seriously looks into offering developers more, and increases the rates. It’s a win win situation. Higher rates will appeal to more people, meaning more developers on the platform making money.

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(note: This is my more complete reply to Roblox’s response to overwhelming developer feedback, I recommend you read their post first.)

(My original post will be edited later, but will mostly link to this for updated information.)


Reacting to Roblox’s Response

First of all, let me say that I am very grateful for the rapid response @baublebi gave on this issue. Sometimes it feels as though Roblox isn’t good at listening to the community (mostly due to a lack of tangible responses) so it always great to hear from somebody!

So, thank you!
Now, the less pleasant part of this.

The response wasn’t as transparent as I (or many other developers) would have liked, I have to dispute a few of the points given, and hopefully at the end we can all agree to some solutions that actually make sense for both sides of the problem.


Missing Numbers

Here is Roblox’s numbers:

(Bold Emphasis mine)

First, These numbers are too vague, but I later realized something else.
This seems to assume that Developers and Roblox have the same source of income, namely through Robux. But that isn’t true. While Robux might be a major source of Roblox’s income, it’s certainly not their only source.

As you can see, Roblox has several sources of income. And while developers have some chances of utilizing them as well, it’s mostly geared to giving Roblox the most benefit. (Final point, Devs get their pay in Robux, and have to go through DevEx to be Really Paid)

And about the Robux. . .


This is an Incomplete graphic, but it shows that Developers don’t get most of the Robux and then give 75% to Roblox corp.
Roblox has put various features (Things for Players to spend on without Devs being in the way), and then you have the prices that developers pay just to get their game made (or to be paid) in the first place.

Also that pesky Marketplace Fee that some developers have said we’d be better off without. This is from the Wiki.
3
My brother @bad_wolf317 is a case in point, he had some Robux on an older account (about 50) and he wanted to transfer it to the new account using dev products. He did it and TURNS OUT, he got 5 robux.
That’s a whopping 90% of the funds!
And this is what anybody who doesn’t have BC gets out of their Robux (so you can’t just buy OBC whenever you’re ready to cash out. You have to keep paying them if you want more then 10% of the robux You Earn!)

Although you can get around this if you use Groups. Which is a hacky solution at best, since you’re using a loophole. . .
And. . .

"The ability to create a group requires a membership (any level) and 100 Robux per group. "


Developers are shifting to other platforms

Maybe Roblox thinks this is going to be a natural progression of things, where Developers start out on Roblox then move on to the big opportunities elsewhere. But I doubt that. That sounds more like the old Roblox platform, before DevEx, when it was all about learning coding or playing with physics. Now Roblox wants to be a genuine Gaming Platform. They want to change their image of a virtual playground to a Game development system.

But Roblox is currently running the risk of losing developers, at least partially, to other platforms. I mean, at best, Devs will have a presence on Roblox while attempting other engines and storefronts where they think they’ll be treated better.

That’s one of the big reasons Devs are comparing Roblox to Steam or the Epic Game Store (or Even Discord! Thanks @Profess_ional)

I wouldn’t be surprise to hear that one of FAANG (The biggest 5 tech companies) to decide to make their Own platform any-day now…


Final Thoughts

A lot of developers had a lot of good ideas for fixes. And I have to agree with them. Whether it’s making the platform costs more optional, or even increasing the number of tiers for cashing out, there’s a lot of little ways Roblox can improve their system.

Here’s my suggestions, Updated Version:

  1. More Transparency in everything that relates to DevEx, Getting Robux, and Customer Support. (the response was a good first step, but hardly good enough)

  2. Increase the DevEx rate to something more reasonable. (Like around 50%. Thereby making it a Partnership.)
    (Edit: It can be raised gradually, and it doesn’t necessarily need to reach 50% if Roblox can show, through real Transparency, That the numbers are justified. But until then I won’t change the number)

  3. Do something about the BC/OBC requirment for actually getting more then 10% of the Roblox revenue, and forcing Devs to buy OBC to DevEx.

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Just tagging on that this seems a little over-the-top. Games hosted in groups (which pretty much everyone does nowadays) get the same fee as a Builders Club member from what I’ve seen.

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I personally don’t think this is reasonable. While yes, developers should get more. It should not be 50/50. Developers do not have more overhead than roblox, so while yes they have more sources of income, they also have a huge staff team that needs to be paid, servers their running for us for free, and plenty of more expenses.

So while we do deserve a higher %, we don’t deserve 50/50 because at the end of the day, they’re providing and doing more for us, giving us the free server hosting, no matter the player count.

Devs should probably get between 30-40%, something much better than current, but not equal or more than roblox’s cut. Because at the end of the day, they do far more than us*.

*

Developers do alot as well, you have multiple companies started based off of making games on roblox, and that’s amazing and I know there’s a lot of overhead there as well. But it’s still nowhere near what roblox does and provides to us. They provide a albeit kinda iffy website, a full studio environment, and server hosting, for free to us. That alone cost a huge chunk of money that devs don’t have to worry about. We’re not having to develop our own client, or make an existing one like Unity work for our needs, nor finding a suitable and ‘affordable’ server host to host the game server, and hire a web team to constantly update and work on the site.

So yeah, developers do a lot and definitely deserve more, but I don’t think we deserve an equal split, because we aren’t equally splitting the work loads.

also

While yes other platforms offer a much higher percentage. They also offer much less in terms of help. While roblox support certainly isn’t the best, and a lot of developers feel that. There’s still a lot of other areas roblox provides and helps us with that other platforms just don’t nor can’t, without making percentages a lot smaller.

I’ll probably come back later and edit this/reply to more stuff, but don’t have the time currently. I agree devs deserve a better rate, just don’t agree it should be 50%.

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They can start by removing the OBJ requirement or at least refund you when you’re devex is processed :confused: I just wait for the middle of the month to devex so I can devex two months worth for only 1 OBC purchase. For small developers $20 can be a lot of money when they only cash out $350.

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They reduced the amount of extra Robux you get with BC at certain tiers. I’m going to save onto my Robux just incase this is a foreshadowing of rates increasing.

@cind_r

While I agree with you on different points (as my original post shows) I disagree on other points.

The free servers is definitely a huge thing, Huge, and certainly shouldn’t be forgotten or ignored.

But the thing with the Engines, EVERY engine needs some modifications to work for specific games. A good engine is easy-to-use (Roblox got that mostly right :+1: )
but after that you must consider the toolset; And whether it’s Roblox Studio, Unity, or any other enginen engine that’s tries to be more open-ended in what kind of games you it can make, the toolset gets more shallow. And you can see that with Roblox Studio.

  • I was recently reading a Kotaku article about Bioware’s troubles with the Frostbite engine, and a big problem was that the engine wasn’t made for making RPGs. They had to make the toolsets for having a save system, the leveling up, and all the various little tidbits by themselves, then make sure it’s Up-To-Date with the latest build of FrostBite. . . And it was a complete headache for them the entire time.

And you sorta have a similar thing with Roblox Studio, if you wanted to make a sandbox physics game that simply utilized whatever Roblox already has, you’re set.
But anything else requires you to build your own toolset (or get one that another person made before you, same with Unity by the way.)

And about the other platforms, Yeah Roblox has specific advantages, but I have to add that other platforms also have their own. . . It’s almost a trade-off in many places, for example, I don’t really like the current front page for Game on the Roblox site. I much prefer what Steam or Itch has. Either of those platforms allow you to Find games you’d like to play a lot easier then Roblox ever has, even back when you could look by genres. (And that made it easier for Devs)

Thanks for the discussion though! I was wondering if the whole DevEx conversation was going to be dead now :smile:

Perhaps you’re right about the what the numbers should be.
But I won’t change it in the actual suggestion(s) until @Roblox gives us some REAL transparency (rather then the bandaid version) and gives us some in-depth information.

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