Roblox is adding two new ways for people who spend time in its virtual worlds to find old friends and make new ones.
The company announced Friday that it would introduce a contact importer and friend recommendations, two new features designed to connect existing users to each other and bring new players into its experiences.
The features have long been the norm elsewhere, but most things about Roblox work quite a bit differently from other social networks and more traditional online games. For one, Roblox serves a much younger demographic, including tens of millions of kids under the age of 13 who use the app on a daily basis. Young users age 13 to 18 comprise another massive chunk of the company’s user base, and Roblox is making efforts to retain that age group and build around their needs as they age up.
The two new features work like you’d expect. New and existing phone-verified Roblox users over the age of 13 who play on mobile will be prompted to scan for contacts on their devices and add any friends that show up. Any nicknames saved in a phone will automatically stay tagged to that user across the platform. For privacy’s sake, anyone eligible for the contact importer can disable the ability to be discovered through their phone number. Existing users can also invite friends through the contact interface, making it easier for dedicated Roblox players to loop in their friends and bring more users to the platform.
Roblox’s new friend recommendations feature is also straightforward, providing a list of people “you may know and want to connect with.” The company is giving the new social tool some prominent real estate, featuring it on the home page for eligible users age 13 and older. For safety reasons, Roblox says that the feature will only make “high quality” connections, so it won’t be trying to connect people who don’t already have a high probability of knowing each other. Two users might share a number of mutual friends or have interacted recently in one of Roblox’s many game-like portals.
Roblox Senior Product Director Garima Sinha told TechCrunch that the pair of new social utilities will create fresh “entry points” that help new users plug in to their real-life social circles right away. “People care more and more about finding friendships,” Sinha said.
Ultimately while deeper social graph-building features are standard on other platforms, Roblox’s unusually young user base means the company moves deliberately when considering new features that connect users or give them new ways to interact.
“There’s very little we do just to get to market fast or because others have it,” Sinha said.