· 7 min read
Making the leap from 100 players to 10 million
In May 2021, Anime Dimensions leapt from 122 unique users to over 10 million within 60 days, with around 200 million unique sessions. It was one of Roblox’s best launches ever, and they managed it with just three months of development. Since then, it’s reached over 31 million users and 680 million sessions. We spoke to their founder, who goes by the username Coolbulls, and they very kindly agreed to share what they learnt along the way.
Coolbulls explained that they have been using GameAnalytics since 2017, and they were one of the first Roblox developers to integrate our Roblox SDK, even back in May 2021 when they had just 122 users. They added that “learning to use analytics was a key skill as part of my developer journey.”
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So let’s explore their journey and find out what first-hand experiences led to such meteoric success.
Massive hits can be made in three months
In late March of 2021, Albatross Games began working on Anime Dimensions. The game itself is akin to an action RPG like a souped up Diablo. Players traverse through dungeons (called dimensions), upgrade their character, and switch out abilities.
“The game is also multiplayer, with up to 50 players at once,” explained Coolbulls. “I think what made it successful was its accessibility. It’s very simple to pick up and learn compared to other Roblox games in the same niche.”
The game launched just three months after they started developing. Through Roblox, they were able to launch on PC, mobile and Xbox. This likely contributed to the fact it was an instant success – hitting over 90,000 concurrent users in the first week, and over 200 million sessions within the first 60 days of launch. It holds the record for best review scores of any game launch in Roblox’s history. And it has now been played over 680 million times.
A large part of this success also comes from regular updates, Coolbulls explained. Since the launch, they’ve released 30 updates – and several of these have boosted engagement back to levels they saw at launch, keeping Anime Dimensions an ongoing success story.
Experience matters, not team size
There’s an apocryphal story that Pablo Picasso was once approached by a woman in a restaurant and asked for a drawing. Picasso scribbled on a napkin and asked for $10,000. Furious, the woman complained that it only took Picasso thirty seconds to draw.
“No,” Picasso apparently said. “It has taken me forty years to do that.”
The same seems true of making Roblox games. With a team of only two – Coolbulls and a 3D modeller called d5no – Albatross Games was able to create a hit title with just three months of development time. But Coolbulls has been making games on the platform since 2008 – back when developers did it purely for the kudos.
“My first popular game was a war-themed tycoon I made in 2009,” they explained. “And I’ve made a few more since then that have become hits.”
This experience – of developing and playing on the platform – is how Coolbulls was able to spot an opportunity. They were inspired to create Anime Dimensions because of two games that launched earlier in 2021. Those two games were unpolished and the developers abandoned them – but it meant that Coolbulls had spotted a gap in the market. People wanted something like Anime Dimensions.
Learn the culture of Roblox
“It’s worth remembering that Roblox is a completely different culture than you might expect. The game engine, virtual economy and publishing platform are all within the same ecosystem,” Coolbulls said. “It’s easy to reach tens of millions of people by just clicking publish. And this makes it simple for younger developers.”
But while it’s easier to develop on Roblox – and possible to develop much more quickly – newer developers often misunderstand the culture.
“Nearly every company I’ve seen come onto Roblox does so believing that their experience will translate over,” Coolbulls explained. “It doesn’t. Because of Roblox’s closed ecosystem, a unique culture has formed and you need to adapt to it to succeed. Long-time Roblox developers are going to have a significant edge over you in understanding what works and what doesn’t.”
So it’s best to go in and assume you know nothing. Go through all the top games and see how they’re made and what styles appeal to the players. It’ll take time before you’ll understand the culture.
Hire and talk to Roblox developers
The best way to learn that culture? Speak to the developers themselves. The community is friendly – and always willing to help. And you’re going to need their expertise.
“Bringing in developers from outside of Roblox has a big culture gap,” Coolbulls said. “While Roblox isn’t as difficult to pick up as other game engines, the intricacies of the platform and the design of the games themselves are best understood by those who’ve been playing since childhood.”
If you can, try and see if you can hire successful developers. However, Coolbulls points out that this might be difficult.
“The most financially successful developers won’t be for hire,” they said. “And those willing to be hired usually don’t have knowledge of how to make a financially feasible game.”
It’s a fair warning. So what to do? Instead, make sure to speak to many different developers. And make sure you’re giving the correct incentives if you’re trying to hire those that have been successful. They’re going to need a good reason to come to you.
Understand the competition
Your competition – and the players themselves – are much younger than you’d expect. Over half of Roblox’s players are under 12 years old. This presents a strange challenge, as there will be fads and ideas that you won’t be privy to.
“It can seem enticing to think: ‘If all these kids are making money, why can’t my team of professionals do the same?’” Coolbulls said. “But this young mindset presents a unique form of competition. They understand the audience better – their taste in games, what’s trending, and what’s on social media.”
It’s also worth remembering that younger developers have less financial responsibility. These games could be a passion project they work on after school or college, while they live at home. They don’t need a stable paycheck to survive.
“This lets them take more risks and spend more time on otherwise financially unfeasible projects,” Coolbulls added.
Instead, Coolbulls has noticed that companies have needed to find large brands to sponsor their game or they’ve had to buy out established games if they’re ever going to compete against the local developers.
Use metrics to take the next step
Much like the other younger developers on Roblox, Coolbulls started out adding whatever they thought was fun or cool. But over time, they realised that it wasn’t quite working.
“Analytics has completely reshaped the way I think about and design games,” Coolbulls said. “Now, I focus on what’s lacking from looking at the analytics. It lets me track how much a feature gets used, or whether or not something was successful. It lets me learn and iterate much more effectively than what I’ve done in the past.”
Using analytics to track metrics and test their ideas, Coolbulls has been able to get an edge over other developers on the platform.
Start your Roblox journey
If you’re considering developing a Roblox game and want to make sure it’s the best possible game you could make, make sure you’ve got your analytics set up.
“GameAnalytics was easy to set up, easy to learn, and was – most importantly – free,” Coolbulls added. So make sure you try out our Roblox integration for yourself.