When I spoke in Roblox in 2020, the company was in the process of rebuilding all of its underlying infrastructure. It was experiencing downtime issues due to insufficient resources to meet demand and needed to build a modern, cloud-native system to handle its growing user base.
But beyond the workings of rebuilding that system, Roblox also had ideas for its developer users. The gaming platform was also looking at its developer toolset and how it could prepare for a world where the venerable web browser was no longer its primary delivery mechanism.
Roblox aims to democratize game development, allowing its users to create games regardless of their technical skills. You could be a 10-year-old kid in Peoria or a team of professional game developers in Tokyo — whatever your skill level or motivation, the idea is to provide a platform where people can make games.
But the company believes the Roblox platform could have more uses and is developing a new approach to accommodate the flexibility required while keeping it easy to use. By hiding the underlying complexity from less experienced developers and creating a flexible new system for more technical users, Roblox seeks to move beyond games into other experiences like virtual gigs, commerce, and more creative approaches. .
“We are in some ways like a very niche cloud provider, and our community is stepping in and building all of that on top of that.” Dan Sturman, CTO, Roblox
We recently caught up with Roblox CTO Dan Sturman to get some insight into how this project is unfolding, the challenges of building a tech stack for the masses, and the company’s foray into virtual currency.
Rethink the toolset
While the terms “web3” and “metaverse” get thrown around quite often these days, especially when it comes to a social gaming platform with a monetization engine, Roblox wants to avoid the jargon. Instead, the company wants to create a flexible platform that moves content seamlessly between device types, whether they’re phones, headsets, or desktops.
“Metaverse is a term that has been inflated and overused and is not specific. But I tend to come back to these two fundamental elements: 3D and social. There are so many cool things you can do in a 3D environment. It’s in a kind of collaborative mode with a group of people – your friends, your colleagues, people with the same interests, whatever. I think these two people put together have a ton of power behind it all,” he said.