Epic Games’ popular free-to-play title Fortnite has shown that people, especially kids, are willing to flock to attractive virtual spaces to hold meetups and parties as ways to socialize during the pandemic. Many of those kids are likely playing Roblox, too. The company just told The Verge that over half of US kids and teens under the age of 16 play the game — and this week, Roblox is adding its own private space for them to host virtual private birthday parties and social gatherings.
Unlike Fortnite’s Party Royale mode, which is a small public island full of activities for the entire community to enjoy, including concerts and movie screenings sponsored by Epic Games itself, Roblox’s “Party Place” is a specific venue for players to host their own events.
Party Place is currently in beta testing and free to access; it was previously used by the developers to host their own in-game events, including the One World: Together At Home Virtual Concert in April. That same month, the developers began accommodating players looking to hold social-focused events by launching “Play Together,” an initiative that made creating and joining private servers through Roblox cheaper at 10 Robux (roughly 12 cents) per server.
Here’s how Roblox described “Play Together”:
An easy way to find games that allow you to engage in fun social activities with others, like visiting shopping malls, going camping, or riding waterslides, all while remaining safe and healthy indoors.
Now, though, developers can offer those private servers for free, and they can pick the Party Place if they want to host a virtual birthday party on that specific Roblox stage.
Roblox launched in September 2006 and has been one of the many games that players, specifically children, have used to stay connected with their friends while stuck in quarantine. In March, Roblox saw a 40 percent increase in users; in April, Roblox Corporation told Bloomberg that “two-thirds of all U.S. kids between 9 and 12 years old use Roblox, and it’s played by a third of all Americans under the age of 16.” In just three months, that number has apparently now grown from “a third” to “over half” of all Americans that age, and the company says it has 120 million active monthly players.