Roblox started letting creators make and sell limited-run avatar gear in April — appropriately called “Limiteds” — and on Thursday, the company shared a broad post about its vision for the Roblox marketplace and some updates to how creators can sell Limiteds.
Roblox views its marketplace as a “critical part of the Roblox economy,” and seemingly with good reason; the company says it sold “1.8 billion total avatar items” on the platform just in 2022. With Limiteds, creators can create artificial scarcity for those digital goods, which could make certain items feel more valuable and potentially earn creators more money.
Roblox seems invested in the idea that its economy functions like an IRL one. “We really believe that marketplace should reflect the real world,” product manager Jehan Damji says in an interview with The Verge. With Limiteds, that seems to mean offering a mechanism that lets the market set the price of a good.
There already appears to be some traction from creators for Limiteds. According to the post, around half of all Limiteds on Roblox are now made by creators after less than 30 days; before April, only Roblox could offer Limiteds. But over time, you might see a lot more Limiteds on the marketplace, as the company plans to open up its user-generated content program to everyone, according to Thursday’s blog. Currently, you have to apply to the program.
Roblox is also making a change that could mean creators make more money from their Limiteds — and therefore could entice more creators to sell them. Starting May 30th, creators can choose to sell Limiteds only in a Roblox experience instead of making it available on the broader marketplace.
Roblox’s typical payout for a UGC item is as follows:
- 30 percent of the sale goes to the creator
- 40 percent goes to what Damji described as the “distributor,” or the person who made the place where an item is sold
- 30 percent goes to Roblox
So, with the change to let creators sell Limiteds only in Roblox experiences, they can theoretically make their own experiences and sell a Limited within it to get 70 percent of the fees from the Limited.
But you might be wondering who gets that 40 percent if an item is sold on Roblox’s general marketplace. In that case, Damji says that Roblox itself is considered the distributor, meaning that Roblox gets 70 percent of the purchase — which probably isn’t ideal for some creators.
Roblox is making a few other changes to Limiteds as well. Groups will be able to publish Limiteds beginning next week; previously, only individuals could sell them. The company will be removing price ceilings for Limiteds; previously, some items could only be initially sold offered for a maximum of 5,000 Robux while others were capped at 10,000 Robux. And Roblox itself will no longer make its own Limiteds.
Personally, I’m not a huge fan of Roblox’s choice to offer scarce quantities of digital items. I’m very guilty of spending money on digital clothes in games like Fortnite — I couldn’t pass up the chance to dress up as Goku — but if I had to pick, I prefer Epic Games’ approach to create scarcity by limiting how long something is available to purchase. That system has its own problems, but it also means that anyone who wants to buy something when it’s for sale can get it no matter how many people may have bought the outfit before them. And I worry that the many kids who play Roblox could inadvertently spend a lot of money on cool-looking but high-priced Limiteds.
But for a creator who wants to build a career making avatar gear or digital fashion, Fortnite isn’t an option, as Fortnite’s creation tools are focused instead on helping people make virtual worlds. Roblox’s Limiteds could be the place to go instead.