Why the Roblox IPO is so important for gaming and brands

Fabien Rossini, ceo of social gaming network Crey, on why this creates one of the biggest opportunities the gaming industry has been presented with for decades.

Last week, Roblox went public with a direct listing (DLO) and impressed investors so much it reached a first day valuation of $38.3 billion. Its valuation has continued to soar.

Interestingly, this is significantly more than Epic Games is worth (owner of Fortnite), which according to CNBC was a mere $17.5 billion in August 2020. And, when you consider that the entire global games industry’s revenues were estimated at $160 billion last year (Newzoo: December 2020), you start to understand why Roblox’s public listing has raised so much interest and so many questions, starting with why there’s such phenomenal interest in a ‘game’, why it’s worth so much and what all this says – and means – for the games industry?

If you’re not familiar with Roblox, it’s one of a newish breed of gaming platforms where players create, share, collaborate and play user generated games, in a similar fashion to Minecraft, Fortnite and our own platform Crey. It operates using a standard free to play model, with in app purchasing options, and developers on Roblox take 30% of any proceeds.

Roblox was the most popular mobile game in the US last year, with users averaging 100 minutes play per day. This has now dropped by around one quarter, and that’s significant, because the stats closely mirror the impact the pandemic is having on social disconnect. The huge upsurge in gaming was only partly caused by physical isolation and boredom from being told to stay at home.

We also saw millions of gamers go online to socialise because it was impossible to hang out with their friends in person, and that’s what makes the likes of Roblox, Minecraft and Crey so key to popular culture right now.

Fabien Rossini, ceo of social gaming network Crey, which is designed specifically as a play where Gen Z can create, play and connect with friends.
Fabien Rossini, ceo of social gaming network Crey, which is designed specifically as a play where Gen Z can create, play and connect with friends.

If we look at who’s playing Roblox, it’s predominantly Gen Z. Gen Z is the first truly digitally native generation. Gen Z is interested in two things: social media and gaming. And Gen Z has been slowly and steadily shunning traditional social media platforms over the past few years. In the US, the number of teenagers on Facebook has dropped by almost a quarter.

So where are Gen Zers going to hang out? Yep, that’s right, in games. When US rapper Travis Scott performed a live set in Fortnite, more than 12 million gamers tuned in to watch. These social hubs represent huge opportunities for brands to directly access and stay connected with millions, if not billions, of consumers. This is only going to be magnified when the metaverse, defined as a persistent 3D virtual world where millions meet online to hang out and share experiences, finally becomes a reality.

According to VentureBeat, there is evidence that this is actually much closer than we think when we consider rates of adoption and the rise of gaming as the world’s dominant form of entertainment.

Industry experts are now claiming that the metaverse will be the next era of social media and it’s being coined by some as the real future of the internet. The whole idea that sci-fi can become reality – all very Black Mirror, I know – is truly fascinating whatever you call it. Experience Economy 3.0, maybe?

What does this mean for the games industry? I think it’s one of the biggest opportunities we’ve been presented with for decades and because of this – and all of the other reasons mentioned above – Roblox, Minecraft, Fortnite and Crey are so popular, powerful and valuable. It’s why Roblox has been valued at more than $40 billion in the last seven days, and it’s why the future of gaming is so damned exciting.

Fabien Rossini is ceo of Crey, billed as the first true social gaming network, designed specifically as a play where Gen Z can create, play and connect with friends. Click here to check it out.

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