Give developers a fair DevEx rate

devex
robux
#1

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 that is of course a staggering when you 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.


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

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.

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Issues with the Developer Exchange: Testimonies from the Roblox Dev Community
closed #2

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

opened #3
#4

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.

4 Likes
#5

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.

23 Likes
#6

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.

10 Likes
#7

@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.

12 Likes
#8

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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