With the absolute trash fire of a year that 2020 was, it’s no wonder that there has been a recent uptick in the popularity of role-playing games. Players can dive into these virtual worlds and avoid the problems and consequences of their real lives, and are given the opportunity to mold their lives in ways that they never could in the real world.
Role-playing games are certainly not a new phenomenon. The genre really took off with the Dungeons & Dragons tabletop game, first published by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson in 1974, and then was adapted to the video game medium with Dragonstomper, which came out for the Atari 2600 in 1982.
When SimCity came around in 1989, it completely changed the game. This city-building simulation brought RPGs from the realm of fantasy into the world of everyday life, and it paved the way for The Sims in 2000, which pioneered the genre of life simulation video games. Suddenly, gamers could build a virtual life with pretty much the same parameters as their real lives, but without any of the real-world consequences.
Now, one of the most recent iterations of the life simulation video game genre is called Welcome to Bloxburg. Think of it as The Sims for Gen Z. It has become one of the more popular games on Roblox, a gaming platform that was used by over 50% of kids under the age of 16 in the USA in 2020.
Never heard of Roblox? Don’t worry. This is what you need to know about the Roblox platform and Welcome to Bloxburg, the life simulation RPG that’s sweeping the nation (or at least the nation under the age of 16):
What Is Roblox?
In one aspect, the Roblox platform is similar to Steam in that it’s an online platform where users can play games made by other developers. You can log onto your Roblox account and choose from over 40 million games to play, some of which are free and others which you have to buy with Robux, the Roblox virtual currency that can be earned by playing games or purchased with USD.
So, how did Roblox get 40 million games on their platform whereas, in comparison, Steam just surpassed 50,000? Well, Roblox is not just a platform where users can play games, it also allows users to make their own games as well. Roblox Corporation has provided an easy-to-use platform that allows users to create their own virtual worlds, create tasks for other players to complete, and create reward systems for other players.
Of course, creating your own video game is a ton of fun, especially when the Roblox platform makes it so easy. However, some people have actually begun to develop games for the purpose of monetizing them. If your game gains enough popularity, you can charge Roblox users Robux to play it or to buy items within the game. You can then take these Robux and exchange them in the Developer Exchange for real cash.
In this way, Roblox Corporation doesn’t have to actually develop any of their own games. Instead, they’ve outsourced the job of game development to their users. Some of the most popular Roblox games ever created include MeepCity, Jailbreak, Adopt Me!, Murder Mystery, and Royale High.
Roblox games aren’t generating an insignificant amount of revenue. Alex Hicks, a 24-year-old and former intern at Roblox Corporation, started the game development studio RedManta and makes over $1 million per year from their two games Robloxian High School and World // Zero.
The Roblox platform is massively popular among Generation Z. It’s kid-friendly, easy-to-use, and can be accessed by anyone with a computer. Roblox is an institution with the younger generations, and as that generation grows, so will Roblox. At this point, with the rampant popularity of the platform as well as how much money it’s generating, it seems clear that Roblox is here to stay.
Welcome to Bloxburg
In a sea of over 40 million games on Roblox, it’s hard to separate yourself from the pack. So, how did Coeptus, developer of Welcome to Bloxburg, manage to garner over 4 billion visits as of March 24, 2021? Well, they certainly didn’t reinvent the wheel. Welcome to Bloxburg is basically just The Sims, but with Lego-like graphics and without some of the raunchier elements that the developers of The Sims chose to put in some of their games.
Welcome to Bloxburg is most comparable to The Sims 4, which had 20 million unique players as of 2020, so it’s no wonder that a game that uses pretty much the same formula has gained such success as well. One June 11, 2019, Welcome to Bloxburg became the first paid game to ever reach 1 billion visits on Roblox.
The game is an open-world life simulation, which means you can go wherever you want in the city of Bloxburg. Players must care for the emotional needs of their characters and make sure that their characters remain happy and healthy. You can customize your own house, get a job and work for your money, learn new skills, and explore the city.
The game itself costs 25 Robux, which is equivalent to around $0.99. There are tutorials online that claim to be able to teach you how to play the game for free; however, if you don’t have $0.99 to spare, you should probably get a job instead of spending your time on video games.
According to Coeptus, Welcome to Bloxburg is still currently an unfinished work that needs more development before it can be fully published. Once it is out of the beta stage, however, Roblox users should be able to access the game for free.
Without purchasing any gamepasses, which are purchasable in-game features that you can buy with Robux, you can only build a 1-story house on a 30×30 plot. However, the Multiple Floors pass allows you to build up to 5 stories high, and the Large Plot pass allows you to expand your plot to 60×60. In terms of designing your home, Welcome to Bloxburg gives you a good deal of flexibility. YouTuber iKotori has hundreds of tutorials online for different design ideas for your Bloxburg house.
Just like the real world, there are many jobs that you can get in Bloxburg, and each of them earns you a different amount of Bloxburg money. You can work as a cashier, fisherman, ice cream vendor, grocery stocker, janitor, woodcutter, pizza baker, delivery person, hairdresser, mechanic, or miner. After completing a certain amount of tasks, you will get a promotion and your earnings will increase. You could also pay for the Excellent Employee pass, which automatically gets you a promotion and doubles your earnings.
Players must care for their characters’ moods. These moods include hunger, fun, energy, and hygiene. If you choose to neglect your character’s moods they will gradually decrease over time. The effects of these moods can range from your character walking slower to your character being surrounded by a cloud of flies like Pigpen from Peanuts (anyone who uses Roblox probably won’t get that reference).
You can also have your character learn certain skills in the game which will allow you to complete different tasks and earn more money. Once you max out the skill to level 10, you’re rewarded with a trophy that you can either place in your house or sell for more money.
The Future of RPGs
While video game graphics and gameplay have come so far with extremely advanced games like The Division Two and Metro Exodus, it’s interesting that one of the most popular RPG games features graphics and gameplay reminiscent of the ’90s. In fact, Welcome to Bloxburg is actually a step back from The Sims in these two categories.
It seems that in the world of RPGs, kids are perfectly fine with something simple. Perhaps people feel that their real lives have become overly complicated, and so they want their virtual lives to be as simple as possible. Perhaps these block-built graphics and glitchy gameplays make it so Welcome to Bloxburg never feels too serious.
Whatever it is, kids under the age of 16 absolutely love Welcome to Bloxburg, and the game hasn’t even been completely finished yet.