Reimagining How People Come Together Through Communication, Connection, and Expression
by Rajiv Bhatia, Vice President, Product, and John Stauffer, Vice President, Engineering
Product & Tech
Imagine being at a packed Chainsmokers concert. Up front, the music is infectious and loud, and it’s hard to hear friends. But farther away from the band, it’s possible to talk with them. Or picture gathering with family members across the globe for vibrant holiday celebrations, or a bridal party meeting up in a virtual fitting room and laughing as they make funny faces while trying on life-like dresses.
These are all things people can do in real life, and will soon be able to do on Roblox. In this blog post, we’ll be diving into our vision of enabling everyone to connect with others, communicate, and express themselves however they like with:
- Personalized and Expressive Avatars
- Connecting with Friends
- Immersive Communication
Last month at RDC, we unveiled innovative products and technologies to accelerate this future. Today, we’re sharing what our company vision will look and feel like as we reimagine the way people come together and advance our goal of connecting a billion people with optimism and civility.
Personalized and Expressive Avatars
We know a person’s avatar is an essential part of how they wish to be seen, and we want Roblox to be the go-to digital platform for connecting with others as one’s authentic self. Indeed, research shows that the vast majority of Gen Z Roblox users have customized avatars, and half of them change their avatar’s clothing at least once a week.
We’re excited by how our next generation of avatars will make everyone’s time on Roblox richer and more fun, no matter who they are or want to be with. So think about how great it could feel one day to hang out with friends who can be and look like anyone they want—a jetpack-wearing ninja, an emo princess, or just like they do in real life. Or to collaborate at a company meeting where colleagues can see each other’s expressions and body movements.
The way people appear on Roblox is a vital part of their identity. Building the perfect avatar requires that it be easy to choose realistic-looking customizations—skin tone, face and body shape, or body size—that expresses someone’s ethnic, cultural, and/or gender identity.
An exciting new technology that will aid that in the future is generative AI. It will let anyone create an avatar body or hairstyle that embodies who they want to be, whether it’s photo-realistic or picked from numerous art styles—fantasy, cartoony, absurd, and so on. Then, they can augment their avatar with clothing, tattoos, and jewelry. So if dad wants to sport his signature mohawk and leather jacket in Roblox, he’ll be able to do just that. And if his daughter wants to be Cleopatra in the 1920s, so can she.
Avatars that build emotional connection
In real life, people read others’ feelings by their visible emotions and body language: if they’re smiling broadly and standing up straight and loose, they’re happy. That should be the same on Roblox.
This is complex work, but we’re already incorporating these dynamics with things like animating avatars with movement. Over time, we’ll accelerate these lifelike avatar features with authentic blink rates and gestures.
Ultimately, our users’ avatars should be extensions of who they are and aspire to be. That’s why it’s essential for everyone to be able to create an avatar they love. At Roblox, avatars aren’t the end goal—they’re the foundation.
Connecting With Friends
When people are with friends on Roblox, they’re happier and they return more often to explore more experiences together. Research shows that being with real-life friends is the top reason people come to Roblox and that 35% of new users find at least one real life friend within a week of joining.
We want to foster a rich, interconnected network of relationships on Roblox, which is why we’re building tools, such as Contact Importer, which launched last year, to make it easy to connect with existing friends—or make new ones, like the millions of new friendships formed on Roblox every day.
In addition, in the next month, we’ll let users customize friends’ names—including using real names for people 17 and older—to make them easier to identify. So envision two long-lost friends who reconnect on Roblox. They decide to call each other by the childhood nicknames neither has forgotten rather than Roblox names neither can remember, which will make it even easier to instantly find each other.
Another aspect of enhancing people’s ability to connect on Roblox is sharing memorable moments with others. So imagine that one day, the two old friends go to a virtual theme park with their families. After an hour of laughing, they take a screenshot capturing their joyful expressions on a digital roller coaster. We’re building a way for people to share that roller coaster image—or other videos or 3D moments—to contacts outside of Roblox, and in the process, potentially discover that some of them are already on the platform.
When people interact on Roblox, we want them to feel like they’re together. In the coming months and years, we’ll introduce immersive communications features that people will use every day to connect. For example, a K-pop band could put on a private concert for some contest winners. As the singers play their biggest hit, the fans get more and more excited, which pumps up the band and together, the fans and the singers belt out the lyrics. That’s a kind of real-world connection that will soon be possible because they’ll all feel like they’re in the same place.
At RDC, we announced Roblox Connect, a way for friends to call each other as their avatars, is coming soon. When we roll out Connect, they’ll be able to come together in a shared immersive space and sit at a bonfire, on the beach, or by a campfire, conveying their feelings and emotions with lively facial expressions and real body language.
Eventually, we’ll allow users to initiate video calls on Roblox with people in different experiences. So imagine being able to call a friend and almost look over their shoulder as they model a new outfit from Fashion Klossette or take on a series of bad guys in Jailbreak.
We’ll be providing developers with the technologies that make Connect possible and we’re excited to see the endless collection of communication experiences they’ll build for our community.
Becoming a Daily Utility
Roblox is a platform for communication and connection. This post reflects our vision for immersive communication which, alongside safety and civility, a virtual economy, and being available everywhere to everyone, is at the heart of what Roblox is about. We’re still in the early days of implementing our vision, but we’re excited by the ways it will eventually help people feel like they’re together with the people they care most about.