Finding success on Roblox can be very challenging. There are over 20 million experiences created every year, and the play patterns are quite different from their more traditional mobile and console counterparts. That’s why UGC games analyst, David Taylor, sat down with Xiang Shen, the CTO of Century Games, a top 20 mobile publisher and the creators for the recent breakout hit Whiteout Survival, which drew in $500 million in in-app purchases over the past year according to recent estimates.

What makes Century Games particularly unique is the company's willingness to experiment with new platforms such as Roblox. Century Games has two successful Roblox experiences — Livetopia and MetLife — that the team launched from scratch over the last few years. 

Given the growth of the UGC games industry, traditional developers are increasingly asking the question: should we build a Roblox game? In this episode, we’ll explore how Century Games found success on Roblox and how this fits into its broader strategy as a successful mobile developer.


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This transcript is machine-generated, and we apologize for any errors.

David: Welcome to the Naavik Gaming Podcast. I'm your host, David Taylor, and today I'm joined by Xiang Shen, the CTO of Century Games, a top 20 mobile publisher, according to Sensor Tower, and the creators of the recent breakout hit, Whiteout Survival, which drew in 500 million in app purchases over the past year, according to the most recent Sensor Tower estimates.

What makes Century Games particularly unique is their willingness to experiment with new platforms such as Roblox, and that's where we'll be spending most of our time today. Century Games has two successful Roblox experiences in Lifetopia and MetLife, and that they launched from scratch over the last few years.

Given how difficult it is to be successful on Roblox with original experiences, I'm excited to learn how more traditional developers can find success on Roblox, and how this fits into their broader strategy as a successful mobile developer. Xiong, welcome to the podcast. It's great to have you here.

Xiang: Thank you for having me, David.

David: Could you share a bit about your background and how you ended up at Sentry Games, just to kick us off?

Xiang: Yeah, sure. I am an all time game developer. I started working on game industry since I graduated from college. My first company was in Ubisoft developing AAA games.

Been working on several AAA game titles, Ubisoft and I started working on MMORPG games on PC, then on to the web page games and mobile game. It's a pretty traditional path over the past two decades. Been working also working at Tencent and also briefly a year at Roblox developing infrastructures over there.

And I eventually, I realized I, I am a game developer rather than platform developer. So I left Roblox, started my own startup, building mobile games. My investor was FunPlus, which was the same entity with Century Games before before spinoff. And I think in 2019 I think 2018 Century Games, there was a spin off from FunPlus and Century Games started developing games by own.

They were looking for a CTO, so they found me, and I think that was a good opportunity, so I actually merged my team into Century Games. So now that's today and actually a very interesting team. I found it what at that time was developing Roblox games. So that's actually a perfect combination between our team and century games.

David: Got it. And so, just today, before we jump into the Roblox side of things what's your role at Century Games today? What do you cover and what are you working on a day to day basis?

Xiang: So I'm a CTO of Century Games, so I work on mostly Technology, including essential technologies and also the infrastructures for mobile game business as well as Roblox, because I was the founder of the development team.

Yeah, that's pretty much my everyday life. So working a bit here and a bit over there and talking to a few other Roblox developers for sure. And Roblox platform, of course. Yeah. Most of my time was still on mobile game, but Roblox to be honest, is taking a lot of my time for sure.

David: Awesome.

That's great because we want to talk about Roblox today. White out survival is obviously an incredibly exciting game. Vic actually did a deep dive on it, so for those listening, thank you uh, be sure to check that out if you wanna learn more about what, what made whiteout survival successful, at least from Vic's perspective.

But, going back to the Roblox side of things, you mentioned that you started you had already started working on Roblox before you came to Century Games. So I'm curious to just hear how that came together. What made you interested to start developing Roblox games?

Xiang: I had some background at Roblox.

That was very long ago. 2013 and 2014. But I've been always keeping an eye on the company on the platform. And I think back in the end of 2016 There's a rapid growth started at Roblox and be paying a lot of attention over there. Everyone's paying a lot of attention over there at that time.

I think in 2019, I started to realize, okay, there might be a really good opportunity for game developers. On that platform. So I actually had 'cause I, I was still running my startup at that time. We had a few mobile game title. Not huge success, but still good enough to support the team.

But, I always keep an up, keep an eye on opportunities and I was feeling there was an opportunity on the Roblox platform, so I had a team of. About five people started doing some initial research and prototypes on the Roblox platforms, building some Roblox games. Mostly game prototypes and then there was a kind of the acquisition.

So we, we got merged into century games and we discussed with our CTO and feel like because century game already had a pretty strong presence on, on mobile. So it doesn't make a lot of sense for our team to just working on something that there was already an infrastructure at Century. So it's actually the best interest for our team to, to, for my previous team to dedicate on Roblox because, there was a new trend.

That, that's why like I barely converted my entire team to the Roblox developer, I think back in 2019. And that was how we started doing Roblox development a little bit it's not a deterministic past, but but still, like we end up doing yeah, I can give you, if you want to hear, I can give you a little bit more details about that.

Like what's our first title and. Was that successful?

David: And I think That would be great. I think a lot of folks listening are probably interested to hear what was it like what was the learning curve? What was the onboarding experience onto Roblox? So that, if they're interested on building on Roblox, they can sort of manage their expectations for how it, how long it takes to get ramped up and be able to make an impact.

Xiang: Yeah. So absolutely. It's very interesting and I would totally love to share it with professional developers because I will, being a professional developer or seasoned developer, you would think that You probably have an upper hand on the Roblox platform given that a lot of developers on the platform, indie developers, some of them are kids so they don't have a lot of experiences as you do.

That was what we said we literally said I hope there are not a lot of Roblox developers listening to this podcast. We were talking, we're joking, let's teach those kids how to make games. That was like literally what we sent at that time. It was like, we're totally single.

We're going to dominate that. We took our mobile game experience into our first game we made, the game is still running. The game is called Megamech. So it's a mech battling game. It's think there was a mobile game similar to that called robot arena. I'm sorry, I forgot that it's been so many years.

So it's basically a Mac bounding game and it's pretty, yeah, I've seen the game probably a hundred times. Pondue concurrent player right now. I don't know.

David: It's actually much bigger before, actually.

Xiang: It was bigger before. Yeah. The game hasn't been updated for over three years. I believe so. You can see how interested this platform is doing.

You asked 100 concurrent players. Sometimes I had multi hundred concurrent players. It's just not too bad. So we had that game. So we spent like a year developing that. It was really good graphic quality. I even showcased that to Roblox team and they were excited about it.

Everyone was excited about that. So we think, okay, so that's gonna be A mass hit and we launched the game. It was some good feedback, but immediately, like literally the game didn't take off. There was like the maximum, I think, 4, 000 concurrent player, but mostly because Roblox promoted the game, there were like, we did a lot of user acquisitions through the ads network, Roblox ads network but.

Didn't trigger the platform search and discovery algorithm at all. Cause we know. The retention was pretty bad. It was, I think, under, I think it was under like 15%. It was like a bit between 10 and 13, I believe at that time. So yeah, we tried on other ways to patch that, but didn't make it work.

And we try to understand what's going on. It's a game had a really good graph graphic at really, in our opinion, really good onboarding experience. So the biggest lesson we've learned is that. We took the mobile game experience too heavily into the platform which is not really compatible with the platform's user expectations.

And to be more specific. Because we saw this game is very strategical very tactical. So we need to teach those players how to play the game. Plus, we saw those players they were young. They don't have a lot of FFPS or TPS experience, so we tried to teach them how to play the game.

So it's a pretty like. In terms of mobile standard, a pretty hands on onboarding experience, like very curated very experiences. We saw that was right. So that was definitely right for making a mobile game. If you download a new mobile game, it's like nearly all the arrows teaching you how to play the game.

Like every, you can't make single one mistake over there. They just curated everything for you. That was not the case for Roblox because Roblox players, they play in cohort. So they play with their friends. Now it's a very obvious play pattern on the platform. Like nearly after years of observation and understanding, that's what we found.

So one typical scenario is they do a lot of like play dates. So they they play those games with their schoolmates, classmates, friends, cousins. And they always just cause players, they have different progressions in different games. So if they bring in a new player and they had to go through that tutorial experience, it's actually really disconnected.

So it basically not really allowing them to play together. So they actually shut down the Roblox social feature. Severely that in our opinion, that was the biggest issue for that game. That was why we in live topia, we had no tutorial at all. You land into the game, you have everything you can play with immediately.

So that's basically the biggest lesson we've learned from working on Mega Mac. Also as as a professional developer, that was the very hard lesson learned. I hope anyone who wants to enter the Roblox space. And listen to our experience that could basically help you to avoid that. Yeah. Imagine the biggest misstep.

David: Yeah, no, I love that insight of thinking about the end user and what they, how they're using Roblox to engage. To think about this is a play date. This isn't necessarily like a game session. So how do we facilitate more social experiences? In order to deliver a need that they have as a player.

I'm curious then, I know that you guys have deep experience on, 4X games and strategy games. I'm curious, what was the process to decide on Lifetopia, which is a role playing game, which something that was a departure from what you had worked on previously.

Xiang: Yeah actually Century Games not only developed in 4X games, but we also developed casual games. A few of our pretty good titles, yeah, including, that was you know We launched Livetopia before we launched Wild R Survival, actually our backgrounds were more on the casual side. So we had a few pretty successful casual games, including Family Fountain Adventure, Dragonscape's Adventure even Frozen City was a casual game.

And also a few games like Idle Mafia. Yeah, we had a lot of casual game background. So it's actually pretty natural for us to develop casual game. There was another reason why we created Livetopia. Was we actually felt that was a opportunity in the role player to the RP game space because at that time Brookhaven, even today, Brookhaven is you have to say it's a top two Roblox experience.

So we saw the massive success of Brookhaven. And we look into Blue Haven, we feel like the game barely gets updated. And the graphic was very in my opinion, old school. So we feel like if we modernize the game environment, we add more features to that, make it bigger, there might be an opportunity.

That's basically why we wanted to develop Live Tokyo.

David: Super interesting. And, going back to what you said before on player expectations, there's a, an expectation that these games are going to appear, like they were made by a teenager, young game developer an element of jankiness, if you will.

I'm curious if you took that into mind. When developing Lifetopia or you were thinking, let's, do a professional, let's make this look as, as pristine as possible while taking the best gameplay patterns from the top game, Brookhaven.

Xiang: Yeah. As I mentioned, we learned the lesson.

So I also the advice to any professional developer wants to enter the Roblox space is try to learn from The native developers cause they, they actually know what their audience are looking for. And they've been on the platform for years, even some of them are for over a decade.

And they have a very deep understanding of the audience. So yeah, take remote. Developers. We. Yes or no. So we we talked to them very actively. We, there were contractors working with us. But because a lot of our teams, they are based in Singapore and China. So we don't find a lot of local native developers.

So we ended up hiring but also, we had an existing team, but we actually uh, yeah, it was a lot of local high, but we talked to another, there are contractors working with us but not converted to full time employees. But yeah, but the thing is. In my opinion, the most important thing is really just to learn from the native developers and also just observe the player's pattern.

We actually, because all these servers where most of them are open, so you actually will be able to just jump into a server and observe the player's behavior and you will play together with the players. And it's pretty funny because the player knows who's many players know who are the developers.

And sometimes I jump into a server, they recognize me and they just wanted to hang out with me. And it's actually a pretty interesting experience. And I, it gave me the opportunity to ask them directly what do they think? It was right what they were looking for. In my opinion, it's like more authentic feedback rather than just, you have those polls or those kind of feedback point boards that you ask them to put on their feedback was in my opinion, more authentic.

More passive. This is more active. So yeah I like, yeah, I like a lot playing together with them. That's

David: That's a, yeah, that's definitely something that sets Roblox apart, I think, is just like the ability to go into servers and just watch players engage and, do the research. By, watching their, their watching their behavior.

I, I've had that experience myself and just being able to see the chats, like, when people run into issues, they'll write the question in the chat and say like, Hey, how do I do this thing? And so if you're in the servers and you keep saying the same question again and again, you're like, all right, we have something that we need to address if people can't figure out how to do, the TUI or they can't figure out how to get that objective completed.

Xiang: That's right. Believe it or not the chat is actually one very important metrics we are measuring. The more at for, at least for role playing games, the more active the chat is, I typically the more successful the game is. If you jump into the book Haven server, you will find there was a lot of chats happening all the time.

If you go into Live Topia, you'll see. Like viewer chat if you go to less popular role playing games, sometimes the chat is dead. So it's actually pretty important. And I think for many other Roblox games, that's the same. Pretty much most, I would say like 99. Persona, Roblox, gamemad, chatting enabled.

And actually chatting is also a pretty native way for players to learn how to play. They learn it just to ask in those chat channel how to play if they don't know if they don't know. And that was like, why sometimes the. The hands on tutorial is not really needed because they just ask others.

Cause this is, believe it or not, this is a super social environment. It just player they don't, yeah they just talk. They don't feel anything. They just want to make friends. Like sometimes you enter a server you just immediately receive friend request. It's very normal.

David: Yeah. I always tell people that like Roblox. For all the game experiences on there is essentially what AOL Instant Messenger was for my generation. It's just like a place where you go after school to hang out with your friends digitally,

Xiang: It's actually more like a social platform rather than a gaming platform.

I I totally believe so. And another interesting metrics is the I believe I don't have the specific number, but for layers brought in by. France, I think it's five x more engaging than fra the, than organic players. Interesting. Three X or five x definitely like multifold. Enga more engaged and they multi the multi better as well by a pretty big margin.

So that's, yeah. So that's why a lot of game they have those invite friend feature, not because like they want to use this to, they are apparently like one way is to allow you to acquire more users, but more important, this is the way to allow you to acquire more. Users by high quality users.

So this is more important. And high quality users triggers platforms search and discovery algorithm. And this actually funnels you, you like more organic trafficking to your game. So this is actually a pretty good circuit.

David: Yeah, I'm thinking of a data point. I can't. I don't remember how recent it was, in the last two years, I think Roblox shared a data point that players play eight different games on average per play session.

They're much more transitory in nature. And so anything you can do to retain players is definitely valuable because the majority of your player base is actually through acquisition. Yeah, exactly. Awesome. Well, I'd love to like, dig deeper into to LiveTopia at this point and just understand what's going on with Lifetopia.

And you guys have been doing a lot of brand activations. And from my perspective, I think partnering with an existing successful game is a much more effective way to get get impressions on your brand. If you're if you're a brand owner, brand manager. And so I'm curious, just from your business perspective, like.

You know, with the Roblox take rate, how big of an opportunity, how important is that brand revenue for the ultimate business that you have in Lifetopia?

Xiang: You might not believe that actually we make more money from brand integration than from the platform. It's actually a pretty the important part of our revenue for Roblox business.

Like the thing about Laptopia is it's a contemporary role playing game. So that naturally fit. Brand integrations it's just like a virtual world. And so it's so easy to just to build a Nike store, a ladle store in the game. So we literally could take any brand integration as the As long as they are family friendly that gives us a lot of opportunities.

Not like some Roblox game. They have like very limited. There are like, for example some rope sorry. The fantasy games they have very limited brand choices, very limited choices to do brand integrations but we are more so yeah, this. And allow us to really just set up a very good brand partner.

And as for brand integration I can share a bit of best practices if you think that's good for the audience. Yeah, that'd be great. Okay. So first of all, so one of the big lessons we have learned is try to make that. You don't want to just bring in a brand integration in a completely different experience and integrate that into your game experience,

David: Which actually going to drive your players away.

Xiang: We have had a few which actually reduced our gameplay metrics. Hurting the game discovery because, the algorithm, the model is always, I think the models got refreshes every day. So if your metrics was affected, so technically a model will send you less traffic which at the end of the day, you don't want to see that as a Roblox.

So try to integrate the brand content in a very organic way. For example, for role playing games, we wanted that to be a role playing scenario, right? We actually had some very successful brand integration. For example, LEGO, we literally built a small part of LEGO city. There are skate park. There are like the vehicle building that you actually can, will be able to customize.

There are vehicle vehicles, so player will be able to drive around. So those got liked by the players a lot. There are some clothing store, which was also a pretty good integration in LiveTopia, because, a lot of players they just want to Oh, by the way I can share a very interesting findings.

For role playing games you, one very important feature, everyone should integrate is the overtop feature. You should allow the player to change their overtop in the Even the player will be able to change their avatar through Roblox website. But the very native way to allow them to change their avatar in game is actually making a huge difference.

Because we actually A B tested that. With or without an avatar integration, there are going to be 30 percent of play session impact. 30%. That's 30%.

David: That's 30%. In terms of the average session length you mean?

Xiang: The average session length. If you take away The avatar in game avatar store and they're going to be this average session 30 percent.

David: Can I just ask a quick question on that though? So like, when you did that test, did you already have an established audience? Because sometimes I think that the avatar customization, it's just another thing that a player has to do before they get into the, the activity.

The activity of the game. I'm curious, did you test that before you had a critical mass and people had already bought into being, players of Laptopia or have you, did you AB test that at the very start?

Xiang: No, we actually tested that in the middle because we had another game called Skytropia was, that was mostly just like a small experience because we at that time we created, I believe that was a one year anniversary of LiveTopia and we decided to just to create a event Event kind of environment for the player to celebrate the anniversary.

Very like that a lot. So we spin that off as a standalone experience across Tokyo. It's a futuristic city. But that's a bare minimum of LiveTopia again, and we saw a very low session time, which really translate into a very bad retention. But We want to just use that as a test bed.

So we're thinking like, what was missing? Why, like the the similar game experience was a spin off why this was bad. So we trying to add those missing features one by one. The biggest one was the overtax. We took the overtax feature away from that. And when we add that by immediate 30 percent increase of the session. So session. Yeah. That was the experiment that we did.

David: No, I just, it's awesome that you have access to that data and that you're able to AB test. I think, Roblox's analytics platform has come a long way. So I imagine when you were doing this three years ago, two years ago that you had to build your own analytics tooling in order to run these.

Xiang: Yeah, that's the upper hand of a professional developer. So we actually had the ability to build our own analytics tool. Even today when we were running brand integrations, cause they, they need customized analytics. For example, brands want to see how long players stay in their brand experience how many like interruptions the player had with the brand avatars, sorry, brand NPCs, for example.

Which so far Roblox avatar, sorry, Roblox Linux tool didn't support the customized. Analytics, but they are going to support that very soon, as I told yeah, so we had our, we are still using our customized BI or analytics tool today. And going back to the brand integration, I I was talking about, we want us to do more organic, like closing brands.

We. Because of the avatar scenes, player want to try on those new clothes over there. It's actually very natural for clothing brands to have clothing shop in the game. So player can try actually those clothing from different brands. So that, that's actually the, in my opinion, the biggest takeaway from brand integration.

So for all the new brand integrations or brand activations always suggest them to do that in a more organic way. Just for example, there were some brands, they were building a hobby in Latokia. It was not bad experience, but I. It's certainly not what the player were looking for. They actually enter Livetopia for role play experience rather than just the RP challenges, by the way, RP which is very familiar for Roblox audience, which is obstacle course.

Because if they want to play obstacle courses, they can just play. Like I'll be games on Roblox, they don't need to go into a RP experience, like LiveTopia to play obstacle courses. Yeah that's something I would recommend.

David: Awesome. And just. Or maybe we can talk a little bit about the value proposition for brand brands working with live Topia versus, building their own experience from scratch.

I was like, I want to ask this question. I think I have some numbers here. All right. So this is from your brands in live Topia, 22, 2022 numbers. So you had 314 million total brand experience visits. You had 12 brands activate. You had 5. 2 million average monthly active players in a brand experience. You had 12 million total engagement hours of brand experiences, and you had 58 million total virtual brand items acquired.

So those are some pretty crazy numbers. As someone who came from building the building brand experiences, we would tell brands, 5 million visits is, a good number for the first year. And these are just like, these activations, I think, are just like a month And you're already eclipsing what we would do in a year.

And I don't know how much you guys are charging for these experiences, but, presumably, we would charge hundreds of thousands of dollars for these original brand experiences to be launched. So I think, yeah, when you talk about ROI, like for money in my, from my perspective, working with a existing game, like Live Topia, Delivers a much higher ROI.

There's a lot of, there's a lot of room for, capturing margin there between the cost of building an original experience and just activating and something like lifetopia.

Xiang: Absolutely. Yeah. So by the way, all of these numbers are public. We just shared that in a a lifetopia. com website.

If anyone wanted to check it. Other than the 2022 number, we also have 2023 number. I think both were shared on that website. So yes, I to just answer your question, in my opinion, the biggest value proposition for GE brand integration into existing successful Roblox experience is the massive user base.

It already has so typically, like you said, you spend hundreds of thousands of dollars building a experience. If you say a bespoke standalone experience, you just spend that much money building that. And then you need to do user acquisition, right? Roblox has its immersive ads many other ways, or you can do influencing marketing.

But they all cost you additional extra money. And so basically on top of those hundreds of thousands of dollars, you still need to spend a hundred thousand dollars to get the all initial traffic. The problem is if the GAN metrics was bad. Those traffic you got from your acquisition or marketing won't trigger the platform discovery algorithm.

So after you finish the campaign, your player count will just drop sharply and eventually to zero. And there's basically just that you get for all the money you spend and there is no add no bonus you get, but for Livetopia or any other similar gaming experiences, because they are more like what we call an evergreen gaming experience.

So Roblox send organic traffic every day. So for example, for Livetopia and MetroLive we both receive like hundreds of thousands. New players in each day. I'm at least definitely six digit. I forgot the number nowadays, but definitely six digit new players each day from the Roblox.

And these players, they enter the game, they will immediately see the brand content, and they will engage with those brand content. It's just more than impressions, because if you do that well, you integrate that game content into everyday play. So they will actually just play the game. And also, There are a lot of returning player for live to piano metro life.

But these games and all the other successful game, 'cause these game have very good retention metrics, there are a lot of returning player. So they return the game, return to the game every day and they will continue play the brand integration. And believe it or not, a lot of standalone brand experience like play.

Enter that they play the constant, they just delete. I'm pretty sure a lot of those down on brand experience had a very poor retention metrics. Because otherwise they'll be picked up by the discovery algorithm, right? Because they were not, that means their metrics are bad. So those, imagine that's the biggest value proposition for doing brand integration in existing.

Experiences. So you basically get the extra marketing effects by spending the same amount of money.

David: Yeah. And I also think that you get a halo effect as well, because, when you create a original experience from scratch, a branded experience, people just look at it as, this is an advertiser.

This is like an advert game. Like it's, this is an advertisement. This isn't made for me. Like I'm. Going to get out of here as quickly as I came in. Whereas if you are integrating an existing game that someone has, a relationship with, they trust, the developers they feel, a sense of identity with that game.

Having that, having your brand in that, builds that affinity. And so I think there's just so many reasons why building an existing experience makes a lot of sense. Alright, so I just want to move on, I just want to move on and talk about MetroLife just briefly, because you guys launched another game, which is an RP game.

I'm curious, what was the thought process for launching an additional RP game versus exploring other genres on the platform?

Xiang: Yeah, not just you, a lot of people ask us because it's weird, we are competing with ourselves, right? Live2PO was doing a lot of brand integration, but we also had a lot of ideas how to improve the game.

But because we had to do, we had a lot of commission, like commitment to brand integration. We actually couldn't spend a lot of time improving the game to the direction we want. So we end up discussion when I'm discussing like, how about we just putting all of our new ideas. Into a brand new game.

That was it. So for MetroLife, there were a few things we start when we when we had the game created. So the first thing was a relatively innovative gameplay, which is more of the control of UGC. Because, in, in these RP game player, we'll be able to build Their houses, build their vehicles.

Most of them were preset. Like Brute failure is completely preset. You can't even customize that. And Octopia has like very small. Kind of customization feature. There, there was a game called welcome to Blocksburg. There was a pretty full customization, but that's a premium game. You have to pay for that.

Every player will be able to access. So for MetroLife, we saw that we give players certain degree of. Freedom of customization. So we actually allow them to customize their furniture, custom metal wallpaper, like a floor and pretty much a lot of things. And also their vehicle, they will be able to just make a full customization of vehicle, the wheels, the like pretty much everything about their vehicle.

And this is one thing. The other thing is we actually had a pretty innovative idea. It's not innovative. It was like from GTA 4, like the integrating phone into the game. And at that time there was no such thing on the Roblox any of the Roblox experiences. So we wanted to integrate all the gameplay feature into the phone.

Cause there was so of a day, daily. thing to players. So familiar to the players. So we actually introduced the form to, to the real play game. Actually, this concept got borrowed by a lot of experience. Like the reason there was a game called live together was also very successful. They did that even better.

Way they actually like integrated Snapchat into that was super smart, super well executed. Yeah. Yeah. So that's very smart.

David: That's amazing. I'm surprised that's in Roblox's terms of service that you can,

Xiang: Oh, no it's no, not the real Snapchat. Okay. In there. It's yeah, you basically took a selfie and you share it with your friends or any Like player in the server they can respond to you.

Yeah. Yeah. And so it's the Snapchat feature which is actually pretty viral at that time when they launched that was a lot of YouTubers they with the broadcast that that should make that game pretty successful.

David: Yeah. I saw that at some point it was, a top 10 game even top five.

That's right.

Xiang: Yep, you're right. Now it seems like we, we want us cause, Roblox is doing a job initiatives over these years. And there are definitely an increase of older player. So we want us to create a more realistic. environment compared to the more of a cartoonish art style of Live2opia.

So Mitchell, if you look at that, we inspired by a game called barrier Avenue, which is also very well done. So they're all style actually really, in my opinion, one of the best, in my opinion, the art style of the role playing game. So we borrowed a lot of their concept as well. So all these.

All these together we couldn't do that for Niantopia because it's already existing established game and also a lot of commitment to brand integration. We can't just say we changed the game for one day and those brand was thinking about like the old style. So we just, yeah, a lot of limitations, so we ended up doing the new game.

It turned out to be working really well They are definitely not competing because it's a much more broader space and and they just have their own audience playing those games.

David: One of the things that I wonder about when you do launch a similar game, like you see with the, with a lot of obby games that they'll, you have, developers who had create, tens, hundreds of obbys.

And they're just basically moving their player base across different obby games over time. And so one of the things I was wondering about is when you launched this other role playing game, was there opportunities for cross marketing? And pushing some players into, to MetLife from LiveTopia in order to get the algorithm going.

So that it would start to, organically send you new players.

Xiang: We thought about that. We actually did send an in game letter an in game follow in LiveTopia, telling LiveTopia player, okay, we developed a new game called MetroLife. And if you are interested, give it a try. Jack but we were not thinking about migrating those players to the new experience.

We were mostly thinking using that as advertisement opportunities, like in game across promotion type of thing. I believe yes, you are right. Some. Some Obby games, not just Obby games, there are simulator games, if you know that they migrate their old users to the new games or sequel they developed.

It was pretty successful.

David: Just for our audience so Obby stands for Obstacle Courses, and simulator games are just like number go up games, where click a button and the numbers go up, and then your character gets more powerful.

Xiang: Yeah, because these games, because there was a very B.

S. Trait for this game is their content got consumed really quick. And basically just, you play the game for an hour and you pretty much know what's going on. Everything going beyond was repetitive experience. You just make that stronger and stronger. It's just, number goes up, right?

Obviously just like challenge, like a harder obstacle courses, but the gameplay essentially all the same. So that's why like they are long term retention were typically bad. So it makes perfect sense for them to migrate their player. To a different scene of game for play for games, like role playing, the player going there really just hanging out with their friends.

So those are like social features over there. So it's just, yeah, they'll be there for like forever, as long as you keep updating the content. So there's, it doesn't make sense to migrate them to other ganes.

David: Makes sense. And and just, MetroLife ended up having 600 million visits. That's a lot for Roblox and, I think it's a testament to your team's ability to know what works for players.

I've seen many more traditional game developers struggle to even you. Have a tenth of those numbers. Kudos to you guys for being able to not just do it once, but do it twice. I think that's definitely demonstrates. It's not just luck that you guys were able to be successful, which is in many cases, I think, you know how people are successful just because it's, they got lucky and we only see the ones who are successful.

We don't see the millions of developers who never, were able to figure out discovery. So I wanted to talk about Century Games launching a mobile game for Livetopia. I'm curious just the strategy behind that. I thought it was really interesting because, you can really have a large audience on Roblox, but it's difficult to monetize that audience.

You've been obviously successful in figuring out ways to do that through brand advertising, but I'm curious if there was any thought process around moving players to more highly monetizable platforms. From Roblox.

Xiang: So the idea for creating a mobile version of Nightopia was technically not trying to migrate the player to a more platform.

I was. Better monetization. It was trying to take advantage of the established game IP and bring that to a broader audience. That was the original idea for doing that. And if you look into the live topia mobile version, which is called Live Tokyo Party, it's quite different from the the Roblox version.

'cause when we were designing the game, we were thinking that's actually quite different audience. Arnold. Mobile space, like we wanted to add more gameplay features over there because it knocks all the social features from a established platform. Like Roblox just doesn't make sense for a player who doesn't know each other to jump into your game and started chatting with each other.

And there was no like existing, like avatar support, like what Roblox already supported. So yeah, we actually. A lot of party games just like eggy party and which is pretty. Pretty hot these days.

David: It’s Fall Guys.

Xiang: Fall Guys or StumbleGuys. Yeah, like Fall Guys, like StumbleGuys.

Exactly. Those are established battle tested game modes that are working on mobile. So we introduced a lot of those things. And also UGC levels, which actually is still under development, which will be online soon. So we're trying to blend those things with The existing LiveTopia experience, which is the social family friendly casual experience like player can still drive cars in a small town and build their house and invite their friend for a house party, things like that.

So it's the blend of a Roblox experience, Lightopia, Roblox experience with the party game experience. At this point, we are still working on that. We haven't seen a very strong metrics that will give us the confidence to do massive marketing yet. So we, we actually did some marketing test in some countries, but we haven't seen the number yet that we are satisfied, very satisfied with, but we are definitely confident about the future of the game, so we will be continue working on that.

David: That's great. A lot of, what comes to mind based on what you said is just, a lot of people look to are looking at Roblox as a potential platform to develop new IP rather than thinking about it as a monetizing platform, but really to grow an audience for IP. And I'm curious if, based on what you're seeing, do you feel like that's the case, like there's a live Topia have a strong IP and how do you differentiate the strength of the IP from the strength of the gameplay for your mobile game?

Xiang: Yeah. Yeah. So I. I totally believe in that. I can say, the roblox player, they're in a gen Z. They are relatively young, but they grow right? If you do that, just like this new strategy they build a IEP when people. Young and they recognized the IP and they grow older and they still know the IP.

So they're always going to be a fit at different age. So we are a strong believer that we believe if you can, if you manage to build a strong IP on Roblox, you should be able to grow this IP together with Your player, your audience so that was the initial idea for doing all these things. I think so far we've there's a, there's no strong proof that this works because we haven't made the metrics work for the mobile version of that game.

But we are definitely seeing a lot of organic traffic. So for example, for most of Century Games, again we do heavy UA. So we have to just keep spending ads to acquire users. And, but for this particular game, like in the past, I believe in the past month or two, we haven't spent a dime in marketing dollars.

It's just all organic growth. So I can't tell how many of them were from because I caused by the IP effect. Omnivore demo just got recommended from their friends or like from the Google and Apple platform. I feel the brand, cause I definitely see like discussions in our Discord servers and players saying, Oh, is this from Roblox?

Like there are discussions over there. So I, I think. I think eventually we're going to make that right. We're not there yet. But I'm a strong believer.

David: So it sounds the IP is definitely an asset. It's, going to reduce your cost per install. Your cost per install is zero right now.

And, you're just trying to figure out how to make a game that people want to stick around and play for a while. Yes. Yes. Awesome. That's great to hear. And I think our audience will definitely be interested in digging deeper on that. In the interest of time, I want to Just think about, zoom out a bit and think about how Roblox fits into Century Games broader strategy.

So Century Games had that, had a recent breakthrough hit in Whiteout Survival. And I'm curious, given that this was just a massive success, how do you, has that shifted your strategy? Has that shifted how you prioritize building on Roblox versus building for, iOS, Android, et cetera?

Xiang: Yeah, it has no impact to our Roblox business, has no impact to our plan on Roblox. The first of all, our Roblox studio is profiting. It doesn't make sense to queue a profiting business at all. Second you don't like myself spend a lot of time on Roblox and people being asking is it really worth your time?

I still believe so. I feel this is. I can't say this is the future, but this is part of the future. UGC is always, in my opinion, the future of gaming and Roblox is the pioneer of UGC space. And I definitely don't want to miss. The opportunity here. Regardless of how much we make from Roblox, I think it's definitely going to be part of our strategy and another thing about that I just mentioned briefly earlier is you don't need to do any, you don't need to spend any marketing on our Roblox as well.

It's just a organic traffic all the time. So the money you've earned on Roblox platform is just your net revenue. You don't, yeah, you don't pay any marketing dollars at any point. Maybe just a very small one to get cold starts. But after that, you don't need to spend a dime. So this is a pretty profiting business.

And another thing I can say that, it's growing over time. And the, first of all the players. They are grow with you. And if you can build a strong IP, just like I mentioned, you potentially could make this a evergreen business. And another thing I'm, I would say, I want to say is I'm a strong believer of AI.

I feel like AI and UGC are combined together. The future Roblox is always saying or one of them also is powering imagination. And I always think the biggest obstacle to the imagination is the expertise of the game creator. Cause we have 8 billion people in the world and there are so many great ideas.

Only I think a fraction of them will be able to realize that because they know how to do coding. They know how to create like art, right? 3D models, animations, effects, sound effects, all those things. But, with the help of AI and it's approaching, it's a very fast speed. And eventually, and this eventually might be just a matter of years, even shorter.

We will be able to just to tell the. Engine to create the same we want. And I know Roblox is pioneering this area and then it's just so natively fit to is their UGC strategy. It was always strategy and ultimately the creator will be able to just tell the engine to create something for them by.

Using text and it's just the sky is the limit, there it is, that's it.

David: Doesn't this take away your competitive advantage, though? Everyone is a creator, then, U S century games don't have an advantage because now you basically, you've gone from, I think there's, reported there's 5.

4 million developers on Roblox today. There's 350 million roughly monthly active users. Imagine a world where you're not. It's already super competitive, but imagine a world where you're going from competing with 5 million developers to 350 million developers.

Xiang: Exactly. Yeah.

David: Yeah. And from a business perspective, isn't that sort of a scary proposition for you?

Xiang: Yes, that's a very good point, and a lot of game developers have been concerning AI to take away their job or things like that. It's actually very similar. My point is, if you don't embrace that, you will be replaced. It's similar. It's just as a game developer, if you don't embrace all these new tools, you don't like keep the same pace with them.

Eventually it will be replaced by others. So that's why I want to keep an eye and not just to keep an eye, but just really just battling the front end with all these opportunities. So when they are here, we take advantage of them as the first Like first time uber rather than just a follower.

So that's my point.

David: Yeah, and Roblox has introduced some AI features already. I think they first launched them maybe 12 months ago. And they have a feature called Assistant, which is co pilot for GitHub. I'm curious, have you, experimented with these features? Are they helping Century Games with Roblox development?

And what are some of the, what are some of the needs that you have as a developer that you think AI can really support on?

Xiang: Yeah. Yeah, we definitely tried we, we are literally on beta test of every new Roblox features. So we tested them. They haven't been in a, in my opinion, the production needs for most of our projects.

And, for example, many of our projects were brand integrations, and those really can't really help us. They have a very specific reason for not doing that.

David: What are the things that AI, the current AI features enable?

Xiang: So they have those texture so one thing is they are working on just the text to model.

Generation they haven't get that nailed down. They right now have the ability to just to select a model from a a store of tens of thousands, even more models by just using the user input. But they haven't done the. Just the generative AI creation part of that yet, but they've done the texture creation which I actually tested that I was pretty well done so far.

They're still improving that but, for Roblox, they have a lot of moderation work needs to do for any of the new features you released. Because the audience is relatively younger. So a lot of constraints for releasing that to public. So yeah we won't be able to test a lot of new, I know the team be working really hard on that.

And I've been doing some of the internal tests with them. But not most of them have been released to public yet.

David: Yeah, I totally agree with what you said before of UGC and AI being a perfect fit. And I think there are a lot of, if there is an opportunity for there to be a new platform, a new UGC game platform that reaches the size of UESN, Fortnite or Roblox.

It'll probably be through the innovation of AI and being able to scale content that way. I'm curious, do you think that Roblox can move fast enough in order to ensure that, they're the preeminent UGC AI or AIGC platform, or do you think that this is an opportunity for new companies to, to make an impact?

Xiang: I think it's opportunity for everyone. Everyone realized that and I was at and Jason Ro demo day. I think very in my opinion, 90% of the projects were AI related. Even some of them, not data, so like you VC spend hot money over there, new projects or us utilizing it one way or another, and all the existing platform.

Embracing a, yeah yeah, it's not just a formal it's. In my opinion, it's it's the right thing to do. You need to act fast. Otherwise you, that you are in danger seriously. So yeah for century games we have we actively investing into AI as well. So we. We have our AI team and pretty much most of our game projects we use AI one way on the other.

Some of their like improve their productivity, some improve their live bulbs. And some we have some AI native games as well. So yeah we, yeah, we're doubling down there and I think everyone should if you don't do that, someone else will be doing that.

David: Awesome. And. Just while we're on the topic of other platforms, how do you see Fortnite?

Is that part of Century Games future at all? Or are you mostly going to be focused on Roblox going forward?

Xiang: Yeah, we looked into Fortnite. We haven't started doing that. The primary reason two reasons. One is they don't know in app purchase yet. All their revenue share was through play time share.

Which in my opinion, not our strengths. And the other thing is the they don't allow external link, external data transfer yet, at least as far as I know. For example, we won't be able to do our Sorry, the index tool on their platform, which kind of I mentioned earlier was our upper handle just to cut the line of our hands.

So we don't have a lot of advantage over there. Yeah, it's pretty much those 2 primary reason, but. We're keeping an eye on that as well.

David: Yeah. I think that, they definitely have a lot of potential, but a long way to go too before they achieve that potential and, get up to speed with Yeah.

With the capabilities and mod ability of Roblox. I think just to wrap up, I'd love to hear your perspective. Do you think other mobile or traditional game developers should be looking at Roblox or UGC games in general? Or is this sort of something that you've carved out for Central Games and, is not something that you would expect other developers to spend much time on?

Xiang: For example small studios, if you focus on one area, you probably don't want to diversify your energy to too many platforms. It's not good for you for big companies. If you have the balance, you definitely should take a look in my opinion. But one thing I would say is. Whatever new opportunity or new platform you're looking at, be patient and stay humble.

As I just mentioned at the very beginning, so you will be learning lessons, even sometimes that others don't. And told you like it to avoid until you really hit that by yourself. You probably won't take that very serious. So that the thing is you need to have some patience, to overcome those.

If we failed the first project and we decide to cancel the developments, then there'll be no live 2. 0 Piano Metro live. No Century Game, Roblox business, that's all, no branding commission at all. We failed the first project and actually we developed another game and that also failed.

That game didn't even see to the market. And until we got this, LiveTopia was our third project on the platform. So yeah, you need to have a lot of patience and you need to learn from others. Stay humble. I think that's my advice to other studios.

David: That's great. So what would you say is the opportunity?

For a large game company, if they're considering it, if they have the bandwidth to experiment on with UGC what sort of the value that they could, potentially realize down the line

Xiang: it's actually pretty similar to always so even at the time when. Century was not as big as today.

We are still pretty profiting on a mobile game. And at that time it was Facebook game. We're still running some of the long chase book and by the way they're pretty profiting and looking into another platform, in my opinion, is always as a big studio, I'll make mid studio it's always something you should look at because.

There are always new opportunities and as you are very comfortable with where you are and you know how to innovate within your space and you're just so deterministic that your next opportunity just to rely in your existing whether platform or genre you should just take a look outside of the world and Cause they're always new opportunities there.

That that's our, at least centuries philosophy. Cause we, we try all new opportunities, like VR and Mar, all those things, AI. We just never unless you feel like there is absolutely no chance for you. Which could be true in some circumstances. For example we don't try console game because we just feel it's too far away from our expertise.

And there are a few genres we don't touch like MMORPGs, things like that. Even I, myself, is a very heavy MMORPG player, and just to understand those territories will not be really just good for us. But if you, like Roblox Like why I said, I suggest others to take a look. It doesn't require a large team, a huge investment into that.

It's just like a small area. You can just, whether you have someone who is interested in that area, you just hide some external developers who's familiar with that platform. Just give it a try. And you, who knows, you might be surprised.

David: Yeah, makes sense. So be patient and experiment and who knows what will happen.

You could find yourself with a few extra million dollars in your pocket. And as you GC scales, maybe even more. Thanks so much, Sean. It's been awesome to have you on the podcast. And I'll be looking forward to tracking all of century game success going forward both on it. Roblox as well as on mobile.

Xiang: Yeah. Thank you, David. Thanks for having me here.

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