A Roblox creator earns up to $90,000 a month selling virtual items like $0.94 stud earrings and $1.24 fur hoods. He explains how he turned his passion for video games into cash.
- Samuel Jordan designs and sells virtual items, like earrings and hats, on Roblox.
- He netted $900,000 from sales in 2021, up from $600,000 in 2020.
- Jordan believes anyone can make it as a creator on Roblox – no 3D modeling skills required.
Samuel Jordan is a wildly popular fashion designer. But you probably haven’t heard of him unless you’re on Roblox, the online gaming platform that hosts more than 11 million user-created games, where he goes by his Builder_Boy alias.
To date, Jordan said he’s sold over 23 million digital items like headbands and hats on the platform, including around 2 million units of his top-selling item, a pair of diamond stud earrings, which goes for 75 Robux, or about $0.94. He raked in $900,000 in 2021 in profits from virtual items sales, up from $600,000 in 2020, as verified by Insider.
But Jordan wasn’t always sold on Roblox. In fact, when he first started playing as a teenager, he didn’t like the platform, finding its blocky aesthetic boring.
However, he quickly realized that what made Roblox interesting wasn’t the games. Rather, it was having a space to hang out, be creative, and simulate day to day life.
After a couple of years playing, some of his friends enlisted his help to make a game. “Back then there was no money to be made. It was just kids having fun making things they wanted to play,” he said.
“There were no tutorials then. So through trial and error, I learned to use their building system to make maps and levels and characters,” he added.
For the next few years, he also did commission work for other games, where he would design their levels, maps, and environments.
As a rising creator, he took part in Roblox’s accelerator program in 2019, which is hosted by the company at its San Mateo, CA, headquarters. For four months, the company offered access to its experts and helped him incubate game ideas.
Jordan then joined Roblox’s avatar marketplace program, where he started designing digital fashion accessories for players. He said interest in virtual items exploded in 2019, when Roblox let players themselves design the items, something the company was doing in-house until then.
While he’s designed games throughout the years, he said he’s found most financial success in virtual fashion items. He’s also worked with Stella McCartney to launch its line of Roblox accessories, and with Forever 21 as its metaverse fashion consultant, helping plan the retailer’s entrance strategy into the Roblox market.
“It’s really weird to me because I view that I’ve been doing the same exact thing for the past few years, and only now is there this massive interest from media and brands,” said Jordan.
Why people are willing to spend money on virtual items
Jordan said people have various misconceptions about Roblox, one of them being that it is just a game.
“Roblox is different from a game because it’s a social platform,” he said. “You go to communicate with people.”
The social aspect of Roblox means that when people meet digitally, they lose a lot of communication cues, including nonverbal facial expressions, which spurs players to design how they look, said Jordan.
“It’s largely a form of self-expression,” he added.
To brainstorm his creations, Jordan said he avoids jumping on trends and instead thinks about his avatar, the space around it, and how it can better represent himself and other players.
“I was the first creator on the platform to make earrings. People just thought, ‘Roblox characters don’t have ears. They wouldn’t want earrings,’” he said. “Well, as a player, that’s something I’ve wanted for a while.”
During its latest investor day in November 2021, Roblox said virtual items represented 25% of its revenue. The company also said that segment grew 50% year-over-year, faster than in-experience spend, suggesting that users really cared about investing in their virtual identities. Roblox reported $1.9 billion in revenue last year.
“Create something you enjoy using”
Jordan says knowing how to use 3D applications like Blender and Substance Painter is required to design virtual items like his. But he points out that viral games are still being designed with Roblox’s own Studio program, just as he did when starting out – no 3D modeling skills required.
“The work you put in doesn’t determine how fun your product will be,” said Jordan. He said he’s spent lots of time learning about game design and fashion, but also that blockbuster creations are just as likely to come from two friends “spitballing” for fun.
“There are a million ways to create on Roblox and no one has the magic formula. It is such an entrepreneurial space,” said Jordan. “If you have an idea, and you can’t find someone else doing it, do it yourself.”