Ben and Matt Horton are identical twins who spent most of their time creating video games. When they went commercial and started making these games for money, their parents were mesmerized.
“It was quite bizarre at first, because I was doing a paper round and they were blown away,” said Ben. “They said there was no way a paper round can make this much.”
“It was a significant amount of money. They thought we were doing shady stuff online.” Added his brother Matt.
They had made their first breakthrough at just 13 with a game titled Boat Ride which was launched on Roblox, a top online gaming platform. At 20, they went full time, with Ben handling the software part while his brother Matt did video production. To date, their games have enjoyed massive play, hitting more than 100 million times, with each game earning them an annual turnover of 100,000 pounds.
Before venturing into game development, the twins were ardent gamers on Roblox, especially over the Christmas period when they would spend most of their leisure time playing a variety of video games. They realized how easy those games were and decided to develop their own.
“Anyone can learn, a 10-year-old kid can learn to make a game.” Said Ben, who now shares a flat with Mat at Crawley. They dropped out of 6th grade to focus on game development.
Their closeness as twins has been significant in their development and now in their career. “We are not telepathic, but I kind of know what he’s thinking and he knows what I’m thinking,” Said Matt. “In our whole life, we’ve not spent more than two days apart from each other.”
These are young and rich kids you would expect to be traveling around the world for fun tours, but they are grounded. They are not extravagant and are not as materialistic as one would expect.
Their new-found wealth has helped them pay off their parents’ mortgage and treat the family to holidays. The rest of their money is safely invested across several industries, as Ben points out how they fancy securing their future now and living comfortably in years to come.
Beyond Just Gaming
Roblox has witnessed some significant growth owing to the success of developers like Matt and Ben. It ranks as the world’s largest user-generated gaming platform, with its value rising over 60% on the first day it was listed for trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
According to Candice Mudrick, who heads marketing analysis at Newzoo, versatility has been one of the key drivers to Roblox’ success.
“The Roblox business model is more than a game – it’s a platform that encourages creators to build experiences for other users. While many games have some form of user-generated content, it’s more uncommon to find games whose entire business model is built upon it,” Said Candice.
There is fierce competition among developers on Roblox, though. The company revealed that more than 1,250 developers were paid at least $10,000 in robux (the platform’s currency) in 2020, with only about 300 earning more than $100,000.
“This indicates that although the broader creator community is strong, the top earners are still a small group,” noted Ms Mudrick. She was also quick to point out that the firm is staring at a possible challenge of “maintaining its young audience as they age, while at the same time also expanding to new, older, demographics.”
A Platform for Other Developers
Besides Matt and Ben, other game developers have made it big through Roblox. Quinn Byron-Dyer, 22, started playing Roblox at just 10. At 20, he joined the company as an intern at the company’s headquarters in San Mateo, CA. He is now a full-time Roblox developer earning a sufficient amount to support himself.
“I got more seriously into developing stuff about 2015 onwards and from then, the money just built up from there I guess,” said Byron Dyer.
Byron-Dyer, who recently graduated with a computer games degree, believes that the popularity of Roblox is down to its “easy to get into” platform.
“You don’t need any requirements, you can start making stuff for free, you don’t have to have any qualifications.”
On providing an audience, Byron-Dyer says “It is so much easier to get people playing your game when there’s already loads of people playing similar games out there.”
Like Ben and Matt’s parents, Quinn Byron-Dyer’s parents were not convinced at first when he got into gaming. “They were obviously a bit unsure at first, about what it all means. Because it was all very new, quite a new industry, it took a bit for them to understand what it was all about, but they are supportive of it.” says Quinn.