- Janzen Madsen is a 25-year-old game designer from New Zealand.
- Madsen creates new games on Roblox and updates his previous games to keep up a revenue stream.
- He made nearly $40,000 in his first year on the platform.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Janzen Madsen, a 25-year-old game designer from New Zealand, about how he makes money on Roblox. Insider has verified his business revenue with documentation. The following has been edited for length and clarity.
I remember when I made my first $2 from a Roblox game I created in 2017. It was my ah-ha moment of earning money on the platform, and I was ecstatic. I knew I could continue to grow from there.
Then I made nearly $40,000 in my first year on the platform in 2020, and I saw exponential growth in the two years following.
Now, I’ve been generating six figures a month in revenue from Roblox experiences I’ve created or been a part of creating since 2021. Along with my team at my gaming studio, Splitting Point, I’ve created more than 25 experiences that have amassed more than 3.1 billion plays.
I’ve wanted to create my own games since I was a kid
I was around seven when I started playing video games and took an interest in wanting to create my own. I used to write down ideas for how I would improve a game I was playing or my own games. I first started developing on Minecraft running different servers when I was 16.
One way to develop on the platform is to run a server on Minecraft. A Minecraft server is an instance (also known as a profile) you can set up and invite users to play within. By running your own server — basically a computer program that runs Minecraft — you build a community. I also made plug-ins for my server, which are add-ons for the game. One plug-in I made was the ability to change your name color in a game.
I found Roblox about four years later, in 2017, when I was 20. My friends and I used to get together to play games, and one night we hopped onto Roblox. I was inspired by all of the different games and how fun they were. I downloaded Roblox Studio the next day. I started creating as a developer that year — and soon after built my first experience, BedWars, while on holiday with my parents.
I applied for Roblox’s Accelerator Program and got in
Once I downloaded Roblox Studio and started learning the basics of developing on Roblox, I applied for Roblox’s Accelerator Program and got in in the fall of 2019.
I had access to specialized talks, consultations, and roundtables on game design, production management, and best practices. The program opened my mind and taught me how to think more critically about my creations.
Before the Accelerator Program, my approach to creation was very much trial and error. I would build something, see how it went, and make adjustments. I was just making a game based on what I thought was fun. I still do that, but now I’m also considering things like how to get people to come back time and time again.
I also found a mentor, @Cracky 4, through the program who hopped into my experiences, connected the dots, and gave feedback on what could enhance them, which helped me a lot.
Creating games that emphasize a social experience — for people to enjoy gaming with their friends — is at the core of all my experiences on Roblox, and my learnings from the Accelerator Program and my mentor were so helpful in reinforcing this.
While the Accelerator program is no longer running, developers can access similar resources like Level Up content, which shares key learnings on game design and other relevant topics, and the Roblox Game Fund, which funds new and existing developers to build the next generation of Roblox experiences.
My game-design studio, Splitting Point, recently released Rolling Thunder — a squad-based experience — as part of the Game Fund. I work with about 20 people to design and develop games that leverage the latest 3D technology on Roblox.
I also create Roblox experiences outside of Splitting Point with friends. Making games isn’t just my job, but it’s also a passion of mine. So I’m both building games during my “day job” and also for fun in my free time.
I need to maintain my existing games to make more money on the platform
I maintain games and create new ones to make more money on Roblox. One of my most popular creations, Wacky Wizards, has to be maintained in order to keep up my revenue stream.
For example, I’vepushed updates every week for almost a year and a half, constantly evolving and improving the user experience. I first released ingredients to a potion for free, and then released a premium ingredient to a potion, which is where monetization comes into play. These premium ingredients could allow a user to do simple things like speed your character up or wacky things like become a flamingo.
It can take about a week, more or less, to create and ship an update. Creating an entire experience people love is a heavy lift. Maintaining and providing updates to an existing experience is a much lighter lift. In the grand scheme of things, updates are a small task for a big gain.
I’ll also consistently make time to create new games. I’ve found my specialty is really in scripting, game design, and maintaining games, and I find folks to collaborate with me on projects that work to these strengths and push me in other areas.
My monetization strategies differ from experience to experience
Making updates doesn’t work well in every case. There have been some experiences that have performed really well, but when I made updates to them, it ruined the engagement — so making updates is very dependent on the experience.
One time this happened was when I made some changes to the finale of one of my experiences — Field Trip Z. A lot of people came to play during the initial rollout of the finale update, but quickly after that, the engagement dropped from an average of 7,000 players to 2,000. So I reverted everything back.
I don’t know exactly why this update was received poorly, as I had updated it in the past without issues — but I think beloved games can be like a beloved TV show or book. When the series ends, not everyone likes the ending. I did! But if the producer or author could rewrite the ending to make fans love it, maybe they would. On Roblox, you can.
I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to listen to what your community likes. It can really make or break an experience’s success. With Wacky Wizards, my community is constantly requesting new potions or sharing ideas for what they’d like to see in the experience. When we make updates, the community comes back to see the changes. These updates are always for them, and people know to expect this from us.
Another strategy is to identify user “pain points” within the experience and monetize those. You can create passes so users can pay to level up quicker or upgrade their weapons, which can help them defeat different challengers.
We also monetize player items. For example, users can buy a cosmetic cape for looks and social clout, or a rare ingredient for a potion.
My biggest piece of advice to get started with game design is to use Roblox yourself before you start creating
Get rid of any preconceived ideas of game design. I’ve seen people with previous game-design experience create a game or experience on Roblox that doesn’t do well, and they don’t understand why.
The reason is that even if it’s a beautifully designed game, it isn’t a Roblox game. People on Roblox want to socialize with each other, and building in social gameplay is core to success on the platform.
My other piece of advice is to just sign up and download Roblox Studio. Roblox gives developers everything they need to start creating anything from simple avatar accessories to immersive 3D experiences on the platform for free. You can start building on Roblox for free and are only charged after you make money.
Roblox provides services, developer support, and free tools such as Roblox Studio to help you get started immediately. Roblox also eliminated complicated fee structures by covering hosting, storage, customer support, localization, regulatory requirements, payment processing, and platform fees (including Apple App Store, Xbox, Google Play Store, and more).
After you earn money on the platform, you then only pay a percent of the money earned. With no upfront costs, and everything you need in one place to get started, there is minimal risk to building rich content or an amazing experience on Roblox.
Building a successful experience takes time and effort, but the global community is passionate and ready to give you feedback along the way.
Do you make money from Roblox and want to share your story? Email Jenna Gyimesi at email@example.com.