How Microsoft helped one of its biggest video game rivals do something great for its players – Markets Insider


Roblox CEO David Baszucki
Roblox
CEO David Baszucki with a Roblox toy.

Roblox

  • Roblox, a popular online game with 56 million players,
    will let Xbox One gamers play with their friends on smartphones
    and PCs, starting later this week.
  • Microsoft helped Roblox build the feature —
    despite the fact that Roblox is a chief competitor to
    Microsoft’s own Minecraft. 
  •  Roblox
    CEO David Baszucki also hints that
    versions for the Nintendo Switch or Sony PlayStation 4 could be
    in the pipeline, though he says their focus is currently
    elsewhere.


Roblox
, a massively popular online game, is giving its
Microsoft Xbox One fans an early Halloween treat: Starting later
this week, Roblox gamers on the Xbox One will be able to
play with their friends on PCs and smartphones. 

Previously, Roblox users on the Xbox One could only play with
each other. Meanwhile, Roblox has let smartphones, tablets, and
PCs all play together in harmony for years now. With this update,
the Xbox One joins the fun.

Now, if you’re older than, say, 15, there’s a healthy chance
you’ve never heard of Roblox — a free online game,
especially popular with kids. All of the games on Roblox are
created by players, for players, and sold on a free-to-play
basis,
turning a few lucky teens into video game millionaires
.

So far, Roblox is available for Xbox One, PCs, smartphones,
tablets, and virtual reality headsets, but Roblox CEO
David 
Baszucki tells Business Insider that the
company is considering making versions for consoles like the Sony
PlayStation 4 or Nintendo Switch, too — though it’s not
necessarily where Roblox’s focus lies at the moment.

“It’s natural to assume Roblox will be on more and more
platforms,” says Baszucki. 

So what is Roblox, and where does Microsoft come in?

While the
two games are very different
, Roblox competes for much
the same demographic as Minecraft, the
phenomenon that Microsoft paid $2.5 billion to acquire in
2014
. However, Roblox actually has slightly more players at
the moment, 56 million monthly active users to Minecraft’s last
reported 55 million.

Which makes it a little funny that Microsoft actually helped
Roblox to accomplish the feat of getting this cross-platform play
running. According to Roblox CEO David Baszucki, Microsoft
came in and helped the company smooth out the technical wrinkles
involved in letting the Xbox One “talk” to Roblox players on
other platforms. 

“They’ve welcomed us as if we were a completely neutral
partner,” says Baszucki. He sees it as “a testament to
Microsoft’s vision under [CEO] Satya [Nadella] as being part of a
more connected world.” 


roblox murder mystery 2
Some Roblox games, like
“Murder Mystery 2,” can get a little
violent…

Matt Weinberger/Business
Insider


In fact, Baszucki says that Microsoft helped bring
Roblox to the Xbox One in the first place. Because all the games
and characters on Roblox are generated and sold by players for
real money, it presented a tricky challenge: the Xbox One wasn’t
really built for letting players swap and sell their own
creations. 

Baszucki says Microsoft worked with them to figure out a
solution, growing from a small, curated selection of games and
content into a full-fledged version of the core marketplace. Now
Roblox’s developers have a real opportunity to make money from
Xbox gamers, while simultaneously giving those gamers more games
to play for free.

“It’s gonna make Roblox much more fun,”
says Baszucki.

Cross-play is a Microsoft passion project 

Microsoft has called for an online gaming amnesty, urging
developers and publishers to make it possible for Xbox owners to
play with Nintendo Switch, Sony PlayStation, and Windows PC
players. It would knock down one of the oldest
barriers in online gaming
.


roblox meep city
…while others, like
“Meep City,” are just a place for its mostly younger players to
hang out.

Matt Weinberger/Business
Insider


The company put its money where its mouth is, too, with a
recent update to Minecraft that allows for cross-play between
Apple iOS, Android, the Xbox 360, the Xbox One, Windows 10, and
even the Nintendo Switch. However,
Sony has yet to play ball
— a problem that Roblox isn’t
facing, at least not yet, given that there’s no PlayStation
version.

Still, that makes it little wonder that Microsoft would
play ball. Besides, anything that makes Roblox better for Xbox
One gamers is going to help Microsoft sell more Xbox consoles
this holiday season. 

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