Minecraft vs. Roblox: How These Games Stack Up for Kids

Compare everything from creativity to kid-friendliness in these two popular building games. By Caroline Knorr
Minecraft vs. Roblox: How These Games Stack Up for Kids

Minecraft and Roblox are incredibly popular sandbox-style games. Both let you design games, meet other players, and of course, play for hours. They also each have supportive online communities that are always available for help. But Minecraft and Roblox are actually quite different when you get into the nitty-gritty. Here's how they stack up on five key elements:

Minecraft. Best for age 8+. An open-ended, exploration and creation-focused environment that lets players create items and buildings from scratch using materials they harvest from the world around them.
Roblox. Best for age 10+. A game-creation site where users design and upload their own games, as well as play other games in a multiplayer environment.

Minecraft has a higher initial cost ($26.95 for PC and Mac), while Roblox uses a "freemium/premium" model.

Roblox lets you play games and design a small number for free, but you need to subscribe to do the really fun stuff, such as customize your avatar, buy and trade weapons, and create additional games. You can buy Roblox's in-game currency, Robux, à la carte, but it's worth signing up for the entry-level membership ($5.95 per month for Builders Club), which eliminates ads, lets you manage more games, and buys daily Robux.

Ease of Use
Both are pretty challenging, but that's part of each game's unique fun. Minecraft offers no instructions but provides three levels of difficulty. You learn to play through exploration, experimentation, watching YouTube videos, and reading other fan-created content (there's a lot of it online).

Roblox offers two modes: playing and creating. Playing other people's games offers a lot of variety, but it can be frustrating since the games are user-designed. For kids who are interested in creating their own games, Roblox offers a lot of instructions, a wiki, and a helpful player community.

Social Aspects
This is the biggest wild card. While both games allow multiplayer action, Minecraft lends itself more to solo play, while Roblox is social from the minute you sign on -- and friending and chatting are a huge part of the game. (Review our social media rules for elementary school-age kids.) Both Minecraft and Roblox involve lots of user-generated content, with players of all ages -- including teens and adults -- contributing and competing. With any user-generated content, your kid can get exposed to strong language, sexually suggestive imagery, and violence. Managing some of this can be done through each game's built-in controls -- Roblox lets you turn off chatting, block people, and report bad behavior, while Minecraft doesn't restrict what you say but lets you "ignore" other players.

Both games have had incidences of inappropriate predatory behavior in multiplayer and chat mode. In response, Roblox has beefed up its child safety initiative to include more human moderators, parental controls, and other features to rat out offenders. Since Minecraft can be played solo or only with specific friends, contact with strangers can be severely restricted. But if your kid wants to play on a public server, find one that's kid-friendly.

Both Minecraft and Roblox have huge online followings, so kids can find a lot of additional content -- wikis, YouTube videos, even Reddit forums -- that could expose them to mature topics when they're searching for information on the games. Also, Roblox lets users embed ads in their games, so kids will encounter in-game marketing. Violence can be an issue in both games, but while Roblox's user-uploaded games tend to be more of the shooter/explosion/disaster variety, Minecraft's leans more toward hand-to-hand combat, even though it's depicted in a cartoonish way.

Learning and Creativity
Yes and yes! Both games can teach the rudiments of computer coding (Minecraft uses a Minecraft-adapted Java, and Roblox runs the Lua programming language), though Minecraft has the edge when it comes to being education-friendly. They also both promote math skills, thinking and reasoning, problem-solving, and collaboration. Both games are cropping up in after-school classes, computer camps, and even teachers' lesson plans because the abilities you can gain by creating digital content and interacting with others online are essential 21st-century skills.

Our advice? Given the Wild West nature of both of these games, consider sitting with your kid while he or she learns to play and checking out the related online forums and videos to find out which game is the best match for your kid's age, experience, and interests.

About Caroline Knorr

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As Common Sense Media's parenting editor, Caroline helps parents make sense of what’s going on in their kids' media lives. From games to cell phones to movies and more, if you're wondering "what’s the right age for…?"... Read more

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Comments (6)

Kid, 11 years old

Hey, I want to know which of these games are better. I play Minecraft, and I like it, but Roblox looks better. However I read reviews for Roblox that it is violent, but others say it is fun with parent supervision. Can someone help me with this confusion?
Adult written by robmuh

Hey there, I founded and run a learning community composed of several Minecraft and Roblox fans and I joined this forum to make the following clarification. I believe the discussion of Learning and Creativity creates a false sense of equality between the two platforms, which are indeed, quite different. Most importantly, writing code in Minecraft in Java requires near professional knowledge of the Java platform and language because doing anything with it requires "modding" the existing code. An entire community has sprung up to do that very thing but almost all Minecraft Java developers are 15 and older which extensive Java experience. This means truly developing in Minecraft is for an elite few with exceptionally high programming skills and the ability to do reasonable systems administration. All very educational, but somewhat ironically promoting creativity of that kind only in those who are older. The Roblox creator tool is amazing and the Lua programming language one of the easiest for any beginner to learn. In fact, you can even learn it on CodeCombat.com (you cannot learn Java that way). Lua also is the language used for other game mods such as Gerry's Mod and other games that will serve young game developers well. (Java will not.) It is not unreasonable to say that a nine year old can learn to create with programming in Roblox. It is to say that about Minecraft. Minecraft has come under the control of Microsoft, which has added "educational" versions that require school accreditation and costs to use. They have marginalized the original edition of Minecraft calling it "Java Edition" and are slowly weening players off of it onto their own, closed version, which will stop community development entirely. The Minecraft modding community has been repeatedly attacked and many (if not all) of the originals have moved to other things, many of them Roblox where they have almost unlimited possibilities in their development and the potential of actually making money by their contributions. Another important aspect is drama. While the article (and one comment) calls out the increased social aspect of Roblox (after all, it is just a kids version of any virtual world) it lacks one of the primary sources of seriously conflict, tears, even punches thrown in real life: the destruction and stealing of another persons creation. Minecraft has regularly been a source of serious "digital recess" fights both in my family and school. The fact that it is so hard to earn resources in order to create amazing things or that full creative mod allows anyone to modify anything, creates serious cause for frustration, even violence. Kids hate having their hard work and creations destroyed more than anything. There are many solutions to this, but none are easy or obvious to most teachers and parents. We actually give each a world of their own and interconnect them using Spigot plugins, but this is far from what any teacher or parent could do. Roblox, on the other hand, has little opportunity for such conflict. Creators are in charge and players participate. In that sense, it is very much like "adventure mode" in Minecraft. I personally prefer this clear separation. It is like giving each student/child their own Minecraft server without the complications. Everyone wants to be the supreme leader of their domain. Roblox makes that really easy. The issue with predators can easily be avoided by creating worlds that only your family and friends or students can join. This is reasonably easy in either to do. Violence is higher in Roblox based on the freedom to create more things with different models and items. Roblox promotes real workflows that follow naturally into tools like Unreal Engine and Unity for actual, professional game development. For that reason we promote Roblox over Minecraft for budding 3d game developers. The map editing in Roblox is almost identical to that of other map building tools. The idea of texture mapping, 3d model creation, and other game and digital art concepts carries into the professional domain. Minecraft has none of this. From my informal polling among the many kids I have talked to and taught both here at SkilStak and during outreach, Roblox is clearly eclipsing the popularity of Minecraft. Five years ago everyone wanted Minecraft overwhelmingly, but in our little corner of the world more than double the amount want to do stuff in Roblox. Personally I love them both for their opportunities but keep with Minecraft for the very young and use Roblox primarily to introduce young developers to game development and programming in general, there are just so many more possibilities than the limitations Minecraft places on you, mostly because Roblox was designed from the beginning with the creator in mind, not someone placing blocks in a Java experiment (Nox was just messing around when he invented Minecraft). Hope this helps.
Teen, 16 years old written by Evon

The other comment before me spells like an 11 year old "Witch" definitely got me in tears
Kid, 11 years old

Roblox encourages Scamming and online dating witch is not safe also the Roblox community is full of obnoxious 8 year olds who love to cyber bully Roblox gets a lot of hate because there’s Roblox strip clubs And there are secret exploits that purposely make it look like 2 individual characters are doing explicit things I would recommend minecraft