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Roblox Aims to Connect its 65 Million Daily Users with Zoom-Like Video Calls

Roblox Aims to Connect its 65 Million Daily Users with Zoom-Like Video Calls

Mike A.Mike A.Roblox
Oct 19, 20234 minute read

With the staggering user numbers Roblox regularly puts up, it's a surprise this didn't happen sooner.

A New Way to Connect

Roblox's new avatar creator (Image Source: blog.roblox.com)

Roblox's new avatar creator (Image Source: blog.roblox.com)

Speaking with Axios, Roblox's Chief Technology Officer Dan Sturman revealed the company's plans to introduce a pseudo-video chat feature into Roblox. The feature, currently called "Roblox Connect" will see users bringing their custom avatars into a shared space, where they will be able to interact and communicate over voice chat. Notably, users will not be able to see each other directly.

The Roblox Connect function was shown off in a demonstration at the annual Roblox Developers Conference, where it wowed attendees. It turns out that Roblox Connect is more than just voice chat in a virtual space, as it also uses the camera on each user's phone to animate the facial expressions of their respective avatars. The current incarnation isn't dissimilar from Apple's Memoji system, but Roblox is planning to expand that camera-based animation to the avatars' upper bodies.

Big Roblox is Always Watching

A mockup of what Roblox Connect will look like. (Image Source: blog.roblox.com)

A mockup of what Roblox Connect will look like. (Image Source: blog.roblox.com)

It's not clear yet if or how Roblox Connect will be implemented into other parts of the service's vast array of games and features, especially since it is only a proof of concept at the moment. It is still being developed by Roblox, though it is expected to be launched for testing later this year. User-creators across the Roblox ecosystem will be free to use it as long as they are age 13 or older.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the demonstration was how Roblox will uphold its notorious community standards over the communication software. According to Roblox, real-time, automated chat moderation will be running in the background of all calls in an attempt to catch standards violations. One example given was if users are swearing freely, they would receive a warning as that is against their rules on profanity. How well this system will function once it has been made available to the service's 214 million monthly active users remains to be seen. A Roblox representative also told Axios that they are considering changes in policy that would apply to "one-on-one" communication.

A Number of Concerns

While the announcement seemed to be pretty popular among players and those at the Friday demonstration, there were a number of issues and concerns from people on Twitter. Most notably was how this feature would affect the safety of the millions of children who use Roblox every day. While it will mostly be used to create hangouts between friends and maybe even serve as a bridge between experiences, some parents are worried about Roblox taking their children's information, the sharing of unsafe content or topics, or allowing adults or strangers to communicate with their kids. All valid concerns.

Roblox Connect will presumably be subject to the same safety measures as the service's other virtual experiences, and Roblox's policies have been well-received for many years. How of if an unknown avatar would even be able to join during a calling session is also unknown, though Roblox will assuredly offer some piece of mind in the coming months before Roblox Connect is released.

Inherent Limitations

Roblox Connect requires a camera, not something every platform offers. (Image Source: Oberon Copeland on Unsplash.com)

Roblox Connect requires a camera, not something every platform offers. (Image Source: Oberon Copeland on Unsplash.com)

While Roblox Connect is exciting and it won't be long before you'll be able to take your avatar to meet friends, you might be out of luck if you only play on a specific platform.

In order to facilitate the live experience of Roblox's coming feature, you need a camera. The demonstration showed it working on cell phones, and the blog post about it states that it will run on laptops as well. However, that's far from the only places people enjoy Roblox.

The service is available on just about everything under the sun, including Meta Quest VR headsets and Sony PlayStation consoles this October. With support for so many consoles that don't have any kind of camera input or support for calls, it feels like a lot of Roblox players - people who have helped it grow into the product it is today - will be left out of the action.

We'll have to wait and see how Roblox will bring this feature to other platforms and how it will change before we receive it.

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