Roblox Corp’s popularity in Russia is increasing even as almost every other publicly traded gaming company has retreated from the country after its invasion of Ukraine.
At Roblox’s developer conference on Sept 9, chief executive officer Dave Baszucki said Russia sees more than two million active Roblox users a day. Russians are among Roblox’s largest consumer base after the US, Brazil and the Philippines. The US has more than 11 million daily active users.
“We’re growing in every country,” Baszucki said.
Roblox said it’s also getting a boost from a machine translation tool in the Russian language, which saw playtime increase 3.6% among those who used it compared with those who didn’t.
Electronic Arts Inc, Nintendo Co, Take-Two Interactive Software Inc, Epic Games Inc, Ubisoft Entertainment SA, Microsoft Corp, and Sony Group Corp have slowed or ceased sales from Russia. The moves are in line with a long list of multinational companies that have withdrawn from the country amid government sanctions and financial and reputational risks to continuing to do business in Russia since it invaded Ukraine in February.
Roblox said in a statement that its “mission is to unite a billion people around the world with optimism and civility, and as a global platform we believe the right direction is to enable people around the world to stay as connected as possible”.
Also at the developers conference, Roblox announced plans to introduce ads into the virtual worlds created on its platform next year. Roblox has had lucrative partnerships with the likes of Ralph Lauren, Chipotle and other top companies to offer users branded games, virtual concerts and items. But the plan is to go even further, for players to be able to interact with advertisements inside of games, including ones that function as portals, taking gamers to branded zones, Baszucki said. – Bloomberg