Roblox hosts more students every month than all school-going children in the U.S., U.K., and Canada combined.
Hamza Mudassir, Fast Company |
Roblox, which recently made its debut on the New York Stock Exchange, has quickly become one of the most valuable video game companies in the world. As I write this article, Roblox has effortlessly overtaken household video game names such as Take-Two (maker of Grand Theft Auto) and Electronic Arts (EA) (maker of Battlefield and FIFA) in terms of market cap, while only making a fraction of the incumbents’ revenues and none of their profits.
And there is good reason for this change in pecking order. Unlike Take-Two and EA, Roblox is not just a gaming company. It is a virtual playground for nearly 200 million monthly users, with two-thirds of those users being of school-going age.
Such a congregation of children on any one platform has been unheard of—Roblox hosts more students every month than all school-going children in the U.S., U.K., and Canada combined.
With this level of scale, direct access, and market power, Roblox is now in prime position to disrupt the multi-trillion-dollar education market, which has so far been incredibly resistant to change.
A Roblox educational experience starts off with teachers using prebuilt templates to customize game levels and interactive tutorials for their students around the topics they want to teach. They then invite students to play these Roblox levels (either as groups or individuals), learning complex concepts such as chain reaction simulations in the process. These subjects are not just a significant departure from what is commonly taught in classrooms today. Thanks to Roblox’s learn-as-you-play approach, they are also far more engaging for students than a typical Zoom session.
The platform has not been popular with instructors in the past, primarily due to the social networking side of the experience that allowed strangers to connect with children. But with improved security in place combined with the pressures of the pandemic, school teachers have increasingly adopted Roblox to teach subjects like coding, animation, and digital civility.
Hamza Mudassir is a visiting fellow in strategy at Judge Business School, University of Cambridge. He is the founder of Platypodes.io.