Roblox taps former Google Play VP for creator role

As Roblox bets big on the future of user-generated content, the online game platform ubiquitous in the under-13 age group is staffing up accordingly.

The company announced Tuesday that it has hired former Google Play VP Tian Lim to lead the product team for its creator group, the internal division of the company focused on user-crafted games and experiences.

Lim will focus on building out the company's beginner-friendly ecosystem for creators, which includes many young users dipping their toes into game development for the first time as well as professional game studios looking to spin the platform's dedicated community into commercial success.

“I’m excited to engage with the passionate Roblox community of developers and creators and help build an immersive, safe and civil metaverse platform," Lim said.

Before joining Roblox, Lim spent five years working on Google's mobile app ecosystem, Google Play. He served as the CTO of Hulu from 2014 to 2017 and led teams at both Xbox and PlayStation prior to that, including the team that developed avatars for Xbox Live.

“I’ve seen many different kinds of ecosystems now, from AAA to mobile,” Lim told TechCrunch.

Lim will work with Nick Tornow, another former CTO who joined Roblox's creator efforts last year. Tornow serves as VP of engineering for the company's creator group.

Roblox puts a huge emphasis on custom games and other virtual spaces made by its community. While traditional social networks figured out the power — and profitability — of user-created content more than a decade ago, the gaming world has come around to the idea much more slowly.

User-generated content or "UGC" is on the rise in the gaming world and creative ecosystems like Roblox, Minecraft and Epic's Fortnite are well positioned to ride the trend. Roblox — itself more of a platform than a game in any traditional sense — provides developers with the basic digital tools for building whatever they can think of.

In turn, game developers populate Roblox with "experiences," the company's name for the millions of portals it hosts that offer everything from chill hang out rooms to slasher horror games to Gucci-branded interactive art exhibits.

While no one can seem to agree on what the metaverse will look like or when it will get here, user-generated content generally factors into that conversation — and Roblox is no exception.

“I don't think Roblox is trying to build the metaverse,” Lim said. “It's building the platform and operating system for the metaverse."