Roblox plans PlayStation debut, new world-building AI tools

The Roblox logo is displayed on a banner, to celebrate the company's IPO at the NYSE is seen in New York

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Gaming company Roblox plans to launch its immersive digital worlds platform on Sony's PlayStation devices in October, giving it access to the hundreds of millions of people who use the world's most popular gaming consoles.

Roblox will also make its app fully available on Meta's Quest mixed reality devices this month after rolling out a test version in July. That version was downloaded more than a million times within five days, the company said in a blog post.

The expansion is part of a plan to make Roblox available "anywhere users are trying to use it," including mobile, desktop and augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) devices, Roblox Chief Product Officer Manuel Bronstein told Reuters ahead of the company's annual developer conference this week.

"I wonder if we should be on every TV," Bronstein said.

Roblox, with 66 million daily users, most of them teenagers, is one of the most popular gaming services for children and watched closely by tech giants like Meta as they try to entice the next generation of users.

Meta's similar "metaverse" service Horizon, where users appearing as avatars can gather in virtual spaces, has struggled to gain similar momentum. It had fewer than 200,000 monthly users as of last year, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Horizon is currently available only in VR, although Meta said in February that it was aiming to release web and mobile versions soon, without identifying a date.

At its conference, Roblox announced plans to roll out an AI-powered world-building chatbot by the end of the year.

Developers will be able to use the chatbot - which closely resembles a tool previewed by Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg last year - to generate virtual objects and scenes on command, without coding, according to a demo shown to Reuters.

Meta's technology, which it has not yet released, used voice commands rather than written chats.

Another new Roblox tool due later this year would make it possible for mobile or desktop users to conduct voice calls with Roblox friends appearing as avatars.

The technology, called Connect, uses the device's camera to capture a participant's facial expressions and body movements and then displays that via the person's avatar.

(Reporting by Katie Paul; editing by David Gaffen and Josie Kao)