Roblox is introducing spatial voice to select developers to help build its metaverse.
“With spatial voice, Roblox creators will begin to test developing experiences where conversations can happen in a realistic way, mirroring how we listen and respond to the world around us each day,” explains Roblox Chief Product Officer, Manuel Bronstein. This limited description suggests spatial voice will attempt to replicate proximity and how voices’ carry within rooms.
Roblox has strict text moderation for its userbase, since it skews young. Introducing any type of voice chat to this audience brings concerns. But Roblox says the feature will roll out slowly to 5,000 developers who are at least 13 or older. Kids may never have access to the spatial voice feature on Roblox.
“I think we want to take it slowly, and we want to learn as we go through it,” Bronstein said in an interview with TechCrunch. “We may start, as I mentioned, with the developers. It is likely that right after that, we may go to an audience that is 13+ and park there for a while until we understand exactly if all the pieces are falling into place before deciding if we ever open it to a younger audience.”
Roblox says it plans on letting users self-report voice chat issues. “Our community will be able to self-regulate and flag a user that is not adhering to community standards, and that user may be removed from an experience or lose speaking privileges.” That puts the onus of reporting on users who are already experiencing negative or abusive behavior.
Roblox is working hard to create a metaverse experience that includes spatial voice.
That new direction for the company is thanks to the acquisition of the chat platform Guilded in August. “Though Roblox’s work on voice pre-dates the acquisition, Guilded will lay the groundwork for Roblox’s future voice plans,” the company told TechCrunch.
That’s because Guilded works much more like Discord, allowing users to chat across servers. Roblox plans to eventually allow voice chat with friends no matter where they are in the Roblox universe. Think of it as audio-only rooms that allow users to enjoy Roblox together while talking.
Roblox isn’t the only game to experiment with spatial voice. Most modern military sims like Arma 3 have the feature enabled to increase realism. But as for the metaverse? This is the first time spatial voice is on the table.