Roblox is known for its blocky, relatively unsophisticated character models and game graphics, but the style hasn’t dampened the company’s explosive growth. Still, Roblox is working to make player avatars more life-like and customizable, choices that fit well with the company’s aspirations, both to keep the platform attractive as its young core user base ages up and to enable many forms of self-expression across its endless hub of virtual worlds.
On Thursday, Roblox announced a few meaningful changes in this direction. The first is layered clothing, a visual update that will make avatar outfits more realistic and dynamic, so your favorite Roblox virtual jean jacket will fit your character model whether you’re a humanoid version of yourself or a dinosaur. Clothing will fall around avatars and drape naturally, like it would in a more photorealistic game.
Given the booming business of selling in-game items, Roblox has plenty of financial incentives to make its virtual fashion scene more sophisticated and life-like. It’s also got to keep up with competitors like Epic Games, which sets the bar with both its Fortnite character designs and its brand partnerships, which can bring in $50 million in a single go. Roblox has its own brand and IP deals, but the more good-looking virtual stuff you have floating around for sale, the sweeter those deals will be.
In 2021, the company is on track to pay out $500 million to developers who craft content for its user-generated game worlds — up from 70 million three years ago.