Written by: Stuart Foxman

Like many university students, Max Vivier enjoys video games. He plays a lot on Roblox. If you’re not a gamer you may not have heard of it, but Roblox is a hugely popular game platform. Vivier likens it to a YouTube for gamers. Roblox hosts user-created games, and has about 100 million active users every month.

As he spent more and more time on the platform, Vivier took note of what Roblox users tend to like. He saw on opportunity to create games of his own.

“I read an article about a 17-year-old from Lithuania who made lots of money on Roblox,” says Vivier, 22, a student at York University’s Schulich School of Business.

He had ideas but not the technical expertise, so Vivier recruited developers (mostly through Roblox) and started a company called Novaly Studios.

That was in 2017. Novaly has produced three games to date: Wild Revolvers, Castle Defenders, Bandit Simulator and Aquaman: Home is Calling. The last one was commissioned by Warner Brothers and Roblox. While games are free to play, users can choose to pay for in-game purchases. Novaly and Roblox each get a cut. The four Novaly games have generated 140 million-plus plays.

“I’ve always had an entrepreneurial bug,” says Vivier, who is majoring in corporate finance and operations management at Schulich.

He enjoys the idea that running your own company has no set rules. Any entrepreneur has to be able to figure things out on the fly, says Vivier.

At Novaly, he spends a lot of his time analyzing data. “We track information on users. How much time do they spend on each feature? Which features are worth investing more time into?” As team leader, Vivier also focuses on marketing and monetization strategies. In 2018, Novaly was named best new studio on Roblox.

Vivier has earned other honours for his work with Novaly. At the Schulich Startup Night in March 2019, he took four awards: Student Winner, BEST Lab AwardOwnr Award, and People’s Choice Award.

He spent the summer of 2019 learning more about both the business and gaming worlds. For the first part, Vivier went to the Technion in Israel, to participate in a joint program with York around tech entrepreneurship. Then he went to California to work as an intern with Roblox on the data science and analytics team.

What comes next? Vivier has another semester left at Schulich. He’ll likely return to Roblox to work as a data scientist, while running Novaly at the same time. Long term, he wants to be an entrepreneur.

His formal studies aside, Vivier says immersing himself in a startup has been some of his best education.

“I think it’s a very useful skill set, to orient yourself around an unfamiliar environment,” he says.

 Photo credit Zlatko CetinicImages Made Real