Roblox, the somehow-increasingly-popular free video game, is ready to monetize its newfound infamy. The game’s oft-memed death sound — a strange and comical "oof" — will now cost in-game currency when used to create games within the Roblox universe.
The "oof" sound has apparently become something of a copyright nightmare for Tommy Tallarico, CEO of Intellivision Entertainment and avid game-sound-creator. Tallarico claimed ownership of the sound last year after he realized its eerie similarity to a sound he’d created two decades ago.
With the dust now settling on Tallarico’s copyright dispute, Roblox is now instituting a 100-Robux fee (that’s one U.S. dollar, for the uninitiated) for use of the sound by players in the games they create on the platform. The game is introducing a new default death sound effect to replace the "oof" for those who don't want to pay.
Ro-what-now? — Roblox is definitely one of those phenomena you’ve either fallen into head-first or never heard of at all. The game has 164 million active players (I know, I was surprised, too), so it isn’t exactly a small operation.
Roblox is, like Minecraft, more of a platform than a traditional game. Users can create their own games and environments within the Roblox universe and then share those games with other players. It’s been around since 2006, but the game has seen massive growth since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic as a kid-friendly hangout and a virtual concert venue.
Who owns a sound? — Tallarico’s dispute is an interesting case because he didn’t actually create the specific "oof" sound that went viral — rather, the sound was very similar to one he’d made for the game Messiah, which released in 2000. The sound spread through the Roblox universe with the help of memes and became so popular a Twitter user eventually pointed out the similarity, which was how Tallarico found out about the situation.
Tallarico didn’t sue Roblox (or anyone else), instead choosing to collaborate with the game’s creators to work out a solution that benefits everyone involved. The exact nature of the settlement isn’t known beyond that the "oof" will no longer be a Roblox default. A Roblox spokesperson said in a statement: “We worked together to find a fair resolution that allows Tommy to become part of the Roblox community.”
In addition to the contested sound, Tallarico has developed a few other Roblox sound and design packs, too. He’s certainly come out on top in this ordeal. Players who enjoyed dying to that "oof" sound are likely less happy about the arrangement, though.