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Roblox CEO David Baszucki told "Axios on HBO" that if Apple and Google cut their app store commissions, his company could send more money to developers, which it would like to do.

Why it matters: App store commissions have become a lightning rod for conflict between the mobile giants and developers. Epic Games, the creator of Fortnite, has sued both companies seeking to be able to use its own in-app payment system on their mobile platforms.

Roblox has great partnerships with companies like Apple, Google and Microsoft, Baszucki said, but if the dominant app stores took less in fees, Roblox could pass "the majority of that" money back to developers.

  • "I think it's fair to say we haven't filed a lawsuit," Baszucki said, as part of a wide-ranging interview for "Axios on HBO."
  • "And I think it's fair to say we would like to give more money back to the creators. Those two things are for sure, right?"

By the numbers: Of the revenue it earns from Robux, the virtual currency used in Roblox's environment, Roblox currently shares about a quarter with content creators, gives another quarter to platforms like Apple and Google and keeps a quarter as its own take, with the remainder allocated to the costs of running the Roblox platform.

Between the lines: Roblox has remained quiet during the Apple-Epic battle even as its name came up during the recent trial.

Yes, but: Roblox's actions spoke loudly despite its silence.

  • At one point in the trial, an Apple witness was questioned about whether Roblox's operation constituted a game store of the sort that Microsoft and others were prohibited from operating on iOS. Apple's witness described it more as a collection of experiences.
  • Within days, Roblox had changed the wording throughout its Web site, replacing the term games with experiences.

Baszucki wouldn't comment directly on the abrupt change to the website, but said he liked how the company was described at trial.

  • "We internally call it a metaverse app as opposed to a game store or streaming game store. And we think these are very different things."

The big picture: The metaverse is where Roblox, like Epic, sees its future, with Baszucki saying he sees opportunities in education and even for the workplace in Roblox's future.

  • Roblox isn't alone. In addition to Fortnite and Microsoft's Minecraft, Facebook said Friday it was buying Unit 2 Games, the studio behind Crayta —a Roblox like platform, which Facebook plans to integrate it into its own gaming effort.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected and updated to clarify that Roblox has not directly called on Apple and Google to lower their app store commissions.

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
Jun 6, 2021 - Technology

Roblox CEO: Human reviewers are key to keeping the metaverse safe

Photo: Axios on HBO

Roblox CEO David Baszucki says in an "Axios on HBO" interview that he is confident that his company can keep kids safe even as adults and children mix in increasingly complex digital worlds.

Why it matters: Roblox is among the companies trying to create a Ready Player One-like "metaverse," while trying to avoid the dystopian future often associated with such virtual environments.

Teachers across the U.S. protest laws restricting racism lessons

Thousands of teachers and other educators held protests across the U.S. Saturday against the actions of "at least 15 Republican-led states" that aim to restrict teaching about racism in class, the Washington Post reports.

Driving the news: There were demonstrations in at least 22 cities for the "Day of Action" to raise awareness about moves to limit students' exposure to critical race theory, which links racial discrimination to the nation's foundations and legal system, per Axios' Russell Contreras.

Updated 5 hours ago - Health

Lawsuit challenging Houston Methodist's COVID vaccine mandate dismissed

Houston Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

A federal judge on Saturday dismissed a lawsuit brought by 117 Houston Methodist staff over the hospital's policy requiring all employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Why it matters: This is the first federal court ruling on a coronavirus vaccine mandate. Attorney Jared Woodfill, representing the plaintiffs, told KHOU 11 it's "the first battle in a long fight," as he vowed to file another lawsuit soon.