Roblox outage: Why did the game shut down for three days?

The Roblox outage was temporary and was back up on November 1, but the outage was still noticed, especially among the game's target demographic: Young children.

Popular online video game platform Roblox is seen being down during an outage. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Popular online video game platform Roblox is seen being down during an outage.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Gamers around the world were shocked around the weekend when the popular online video game Roblox suddenly shut down worldwide for three days.

The outage was temporary and was back up on November 1. But the outage was still noticed, especially among the game's target demographic: Young children.

So what exactly happened? 

Here is everything you need to know about the Roblox outage.

What is Roblox?

Roblox. (credit: Wikimedia Commons)Roblox. (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Roblox is not a typical video game, per se, but is rather an online gaming platform and game creation system, not unlike one of the many functions in the popular game Minecraft.

Essentially, this allows for users to create their own games and share them with other users on the platform. 

The game itself was made back in 2006 by the Roblox Corporation and went largely unnoticed. Around 10 years later, it slowly began growing in popularity, skyrocketing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Notably, the game's primary users are children, with the company reporting that over 50% of all kids in the US under the age of 16 play the game, The Verge reported in July 2020.

The game itself is free and can be played on PC, Mac, iOS and Android, though microtransactions exist in an in-game currency dubbed Robux. 

When did Roblox shut down?

On October 28 at around 7:00 p.m. EST, the platform had started experiencing issues. Soon, the platform went down entirely. 

The company worked for days to fix the issue, and on November 1, the problem was finally fixed.

Why did Roblox shut down? Was Chipotle involved?

A question that arose during the outage is whether the fast-food chain Chipotle was in some way connected. This is due to a Chipotle promotion offered in the game in partnership with the chain. As the promotion went live on the platform at 6:30 p.m. EST on October 28, shortly before the issues began, many wondered if this could be connected.

But the company had said this was not the case, and had revealed on Twitter that  “We know that this outage was not related to any specific experiences or partnerships on the platform.”

In a statement released to The Verge, the Roblox Corporation also confirmed it was not due to an external intrusion, such as a hack.

In an update regarding the outage on October 31, Roblox Corporation CEO David Baszucki explained that the issue was something internal. He did not specify the exact nature of the issue, but he did shed some light on some of the details.

"This was an especially difficult outage in that it involved a combination of several factors," he wrote in a blog post. "A core system in our infrastructure became overwhelmed, prompted by a subtle bug in our backend service communications while under heavy load. This was not due to any peak in external traffic or any particular experience. Rather the failure was caused by the growth in the number of servers in our datacenters. The result was that most services at Roblox were unable to effectively communicate and deploy."

Further details will be made available in a "post-mortem" report of the Roblox outage after the company finishes analyzing the incident.

What does the Roblox outage mean for the company?

The outage dealt the Roblox Corporation a hefty financial blow.

According to MarketWatch, the company's shares declined by around 4% on Monday. Its shares closed that day at $81.14. In total, the outage and subsequent share price drop cost the company's market cap some $1.66 billion. Further, based on the company's last quarterly report, the outage would have cost the company $15 million in revenue.

But it isn't just the company that is affected.

Many users who go on the platform every day actually use it as a means of making money, deriving income from their creations in the game. These users would have also taken a financial hit from the lost days' revenue.

Will users miss out on Roblox's Halloween events?

Fortunately, no.

The company announced over Twitter that the Halloween season would be extended. 

Users can still check it out before it ends on November 9.