Revisiting Blox Fruits – Lessons From One of Roblox’s Greatest Hits
Originally launched in 2019 as Blox Piece, Blox Fruits is an MMORPG inspired by “One Piece,” and created by two developers, mygame43 and rip_indra. Before creating Blox Fruits, the duo worked together on a range of Roblox projects of varying success, including Elemental Battlegrounds, a PvP magic fighting game with over 410M visits, and Parkour Simulator, which quickly died out after launch.
They took the lessons learned from their old games to create Blox Fruits, one of the most popular and highest-earning Roblox games today. Some of the most valuable lessons from their success include:
- The value of being persistent and building toward a critical mass of content that can go viral.
- The importance of involving the player base in the game development process.
- How to monetize on Roblox with a relatively unique monetization strategy.
Before we dive deeper into these, though, let’s unpack how the game works and how it has performed.
Gameplay: Capitalizing on a Popular IP
Blox Fruits is a simple MMORPG that packages the “One Piece” universe into a fun game. Players go through an engagement loop of exploring the map, encountering increasingly difficult enemies, and farming and looting (so they can do more farming). This fits perfectly with the “One Piece” storyline, which centers around a carefree pirate on an adventure to find the treasure left behind by a legendary Pirate King. He faces increasingly challenging enemies and finds power-ups and allies who help him overcome those obstacles. The developers do a fantastic job translating the anime’s key points into game mechanics and creating an outlet for “One Piece” fans to explore the story’s universe with their own unique protagonist.
Although the game is incredibly popular, it has its fair share of shortcomings, including heavy grinding, limited world-building, a nonexistent tutorial system, and rudimentary UI. The grinding is partially offset by the multiplayer nature of the game, which helps punctuate periods of repetitiveness by meeting friendly players who help you on your journey, and antagonistic ones who try to PvP fight you while you’re peacefully farming. Players also look past the limited world-building and nonexistent tutorial system, given their intrinsic familiarity with the IP and a robust online community to help explain basic game mechanics.
Putting aside the game's success, it goes without saying that building an unlicensed experience carries many risks. Over time, the developers of Blox Piece have tried to distance themselves from the “One Piece” IP by renaming the game from Blox Piece to Blox Fruits, remodeling in-game content to less resemble “One Piece,” and creating new content unique to Blox Fruits.
As creator payouts on Roblox continue to grow, there’s going to be more attention and pressure applied to these unlicensed experiences. Also, IP owners should view Blox Fruits as an example of additional ways to monetize IP by licensing it out to developers on leading platforms. If the companies have larger gaming aspirations too, conducting this R&D of sorts on Roblox is also a way to learn what types of games might speak to their fan bases.
Let’s now break down some of the key learnings from Blox Fruits.
#1 & #2: Growth: Persistence and Community Buy-in
Blox Fruits was not an overnight success story. The game launched in mid-2019 and performed all right in its first year, but largely failed to break through 20K daily concurrent players.
The game started gaining momentum in late 2020 when it released Patch 13, which included its first Christmas event and the release of the Dragon Devil fruit (based on one of the most powerful abilities in the “One Piece” universe). The team’s newfound success on YouTube also started to bolster the game’s popularity on Roblox, and the team leveraged the channel’s viewership to build up player anticipation ahead of major patches using sneak peeks.
Despite these efforts, it was still far from one of the top games on Roblox. In September 2021, the developers launched a third major expansion to the game. This made the player count peak at about 170K daily concurrent players, which would be considered a big success, then trended downward as players finished exploring the available content. This drop-off in engagement was to be expected, given the content was geared toward end-game players and didn’t fix some of the original challenges of onboarding new players.
The big breakthrough occurred in 2022 when the team reworked two components of the game’s existing content and gameplay. Influenced by community feedback, these updates focused on deepening the gameplay experience for players across all levels. By then, the game also had sufficient content to keep newly onboarded players engaged through the core storyline, and side quests to keep older players from being burned out by grinding.
The game’s growing popularity also kickstarted a dedicated Blox Fruits creator community, which serves as a new player onboarding tool and driver of overall player engagement. The developers quickly embraced this creator community, providing popular YouTubers with various perks and abilities to help them improve content creation. Today, many creators with over 100K subs are dedicated to posting Blox Fruits videos, including four creators with over a million subscribers.
The success of Blox Fruits is a powerful illustration of the importance of persistence and patience in building games on UGC platforms. It also underscores how the younger generation of players expects to actively participate in the development trajectory of many of the games they play.
The Blox Fruits developers regularly ask their 1.3M X followers and 1.5M Discord members for insights on what content and updates they want. They also regularly incorporate fan-made content into the game, from small touches such as fan-made art appearing in-game to introducing new content based on a fan design contest.
The level of player engagement in the creative process is not unique to Blox Fruits; instead, it indicates a broader shift in the UGC game development process of the current era. On UGC platforms where players have zero switching costs – where player loyalty is hard to win, and developers and players have unparalleled access to direct communication tools – player involvement in the creative process will only continue to gain momentum.
#3: A Slightly Different Monetization Strategy
In Roblox, using Robux-based loot boxes featuring pay-to-win elements is a common monetization strategy, one adopted by many of the top games. In this context, it’s interesting that the creators of Blox Fruits decided to take a slightly different approach: by making all of the content free to access but charging players for tools to expedite their in-game progress.
To best understand how this monetization strategy works, we first need to look at the game’s core skill tree, Devil Fruits. In Blox Fruits, Devil Fruits form the backbone of the combat system by determining the spells a player can cast. Players can swap between Devil Fruits but can only have one Devil Fruit ability at a time. This is important because each Devil Fruit has different strengths. For example, the Buddha Fruit grants a skill that allows the player to transform into a character three times their original size, expanding their melee range, which makes it one of the best fruits for farming. But it also triples the player’s hitbox, making it bad for PvP.
To obtain a Devil Fruit ability, players need to “eat” the corresponding Devil Fruit, which is a single-use consumable item in the game. The primary way for players to acquire fruits is by farming in-game currency and buying loot boxes that provide a randomized chance of obtaining a Devil Fruit. As players progress further into the game, they are also granted access to a trading system, allowing them to barter with others to get their desired fruits.
The developers cleverly balanced the economy by putting a two-hour cooldown on the loot box, scaling the costs of fruits based on player level, and limiting the storage of fruits so that higher-level players can’t dilute the market using their economic advantage. These mechanics also have the added benefit of player retention and increased playtime, as players are incentivized to log onto the game to roll fruits and often spend hours server-hopping to look for trades.
The primary monetization strategy for Blox Fruits is selling players “permanent” copies of Devil Fruit for Robux. Fruits purchased using Robux will stay in the player’s inventory even after they are consumed, and players can use different Devil Fruits without the fear of having to “roll” or trade to reacquire their Devil Fruit abilities. The other key benefit of buying fruits with Robux is to unlock good Devil Fruits for farming early into the game, which speeds up a player’s progress toward the end-game content.
The end-game content, which is centered around PvP, still feels balanced, because there is a robust set of supporting skill trees (mastery points on Devil Fruits, fighting styles, and weapons) to help ensure that more experienced players can consistently beat out less experienced or skilled players. Robux can also be used to pay for temporary double EXP gains and permanent money and loot drop boosts, which also helps with progression – but doesn’t change the end-game experience.
These game design choices work in tandem to help players feel as though grinding is being rewarded and that paying players don’t get a huge leg-up on the rest of the community. This generally positive player sentiment around the game’s monetization is a critical ingredient to the game's success. These clever design choices have clearly paid off, with Blox Fruits becoming one of the most popular and highest grossing games on Roblox.
Arguably, the most important takeaway is that games on Roblox don’t have to be perfect at launch, and small development teams can take time to iterate their games to the point where they can go viral. Developers should also expect players to play an integral role in the development process, and the developer's receptiveness to feedback can drive growth and help capture elusive player loyalty. It’s also refreshing to see one of the top Roblox games experiment with a unique monetization strategy that doesn’t center around pay-to-win loot boxes. Hopefully, it can inspire other UGC game developers to follow suit.
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