Roblox is eyeing a historic debut on the public markets in the next few months. The company is currently valued at 29.5 billion USD by investors who are undoubtedly interested in the gaming company’s committed and young user base. If you have rolled the BTC crypto dice, you must have heard of the exploits this company is doing in the gaming world. Roblox platform has an impressive 7 million active creators and developers, which is also a massive attraction to investors.
Since 2015, Roblox has been running an accelerator program that aims to enable next-generation game developers to succeed on the platform. Over time, this program has grown from a single class annually to three. Each class hosts about 40 developers. This means that over 100 developers take part in the Roblox program for mentorship, education, and funding opportunities each year.
As their efforts grew in this area, in 2018, Roblox sought former Accelerator alumni Christian Hunter’s services to run the program. Hunter is a Roblox gamer from age 10 and a game developer since he was 13. Since Hunter had gone through the experience, he brought an insider’s understanding of how to improve the Accelerator from a developer’s point of view.
However, the global pandemic that hit the world in 2020 stood in the way of the company’s strategy. The company could no longer invite developers to its San Mateo office to participate in the three-month classes. Instead, they were forced to change the program to allow remote participation.
Developers had to adjust to working in a virtual environment. In the virtual working space, developers join the program’s Discord server to talk to current participants and participants from previous classes. They can also take part in the Roblox company Slack to ask questions. The virtual working space also allowed for more playtests to be scheduled to get feedback from the company’s employees.
Furthermore, since there were no face-to-face meetings, developers had to devise socializing ways to know each other better. They held game nights to play each others’ games or other games popular on the Roblox platform. This exercise helped them to bond in the virtual environment.
In the virtual working environment, the Accelerator content remained consistent. Participants took part in weekly standups and talks on critical subjects such as game design and development. There were also weekly feedback sessions during which they were allowed to ask Roblox Engineers some questions.
However, naturally, a remote accelerator made it possible for more people to participate in the sessions. The program was not limited to participants that could travel to San Mateo and stay there for three months. The new approach opened up the program to more people around the world, making the audience more diverse. Consequently, the program’s demand shot upwards.
In 2020, Roblox received more applications for the program than in any other year since the year it began. The class had participants from five different countries, including the USA, Sweden, Canada, South Korea, and the Philippines.
Among the participants were the developers at IndieBox Studios. They saw the program as an opportunity to grow their game development endeavor. The developers, who are a team of friends spread across the UK and Kentucky, used their time at the Accelerator program to scale up their photorealistic title dubbed Tank Warfare.
It is also enthralling to note that the developers at IndieBox studios have only met once face-to-face in the nine years they have been together. They joined Roblox in 2008 but started developing on the platform in 2019.
The Accelerator demographics have also been changing because of the growth of the developer base that is also quickly becoming more diverse. Initially, the program only attracted male developers. But in 2020, there were more women participants than in previous years. In fact, there was a team that was all women.
In the past, the program used to attract developers aged 24 and below. But in 2020, the program attracted 12 individuals aged 30 or more. There were also teams made up of a parent and their kid.
Besides the changes the company had to make, they also note that other benefits came with remote learning. For instance, the developers were not forced to wake up early to benefit from the program. Remote learning allowed developers to work in their preferred hours hence increasing their productivity.
The company acknowledges that, at some point, the pandemic will be over. However, they also agree that whatever they have learned from the Accelerator and the benefits of working remotely will live on. Developers from the program will even hope that the growth the Roblox platform has experienced continues.
Roblox has said that their future Accelerator programs will all have a remote element inspired by the 2020 pandemic experience. From now on, the company’s strategy is to avail its program globally, albeit to English speakers only now.