Roblox pauses service in China as it takes ‘important transitory actions’ – TechCrunch

On December 8, the Chinese version of Roblox LuoBuLeSi, published and operated by Tencent, suddenly shut down its server five months after it was launched on iOS and Android.

Many users, by surprise, took to Chinese social media to complain about the short notification. LuoBuLeSi said in a notice that what the users were playing was actually a “beta to delete archive”. But one user asked, “Have you seen a test game that allows users to add money to their account?”

“Last year, we launched Roblox China aka LuoBuLeSi with a vision to build an immersive virtual world of 3D experiences in China that we’ve been testing and iterating along the way,” a Roblox spokesperson said in a statement to TechCrunch.

“We have always known that building a compelling platform in China is an iterative process, and we are grateful for the support of LuoBuLeSi users and our global developer community.”

Tencent did not respond to TechCrunch’s request for comment.

In May 2019, Roblox and Tencent announced a joint venture in which the former has a controlling stake of 51% and Tencent of 49%, a rare arrangement in which a foreign entity acquires a majority stake in a Chinese joint venture. In July 2020, LuoBuLeSi released a beta version for Android, which explicitly said that it will clear users’ archives when the period expires.

data infrastructure

Roblox’s unique offering may have taken longer to secure the regulatory green light. LuoBuLeSi has invoiced Education Oriented Corner Initially. However, last year China launched a comprehensive crackdown on the private education sector. It was also expected that tighter Chinese restrictions on children’s playing time would reduce LuoBuLeSi’s exposure to young players.

One might also wonder how China’s new data regulations have affected foreign ISPs in the country. Yahoo and LinkedIn, in response to tougher cross-border data rules in China, won’t be the last foreign companies to pull their services from the massive market.

Roblox’s manifest provides a simple guide:

“It is critical that we now make the necessary investments, including in our data engineering, in order to achieve our long-term vision for LuoBuLeSi. We have determined that a number of important interim measures are necessary as we build the next version of LuoBuLeSi.”

To publish in China, offshore games typically seek a local partner to assist with marketing, distribution, and perhaps most importantly, regulatory compliance and enforcement for game licenses.

An ally like Tencent would ensure that LuoBuLeSi user-generated plays do not conflict with Chinese authorities. LuoBuLeSi is isolated from the global Roblox platform and does not have the same game tank or group of players. As a result, many Chinese users have moved to the global version via VPNs, a common phenomenon where the Chinese version of the world-famous title is censored.

LuoBuLeSi is still a gateway for many developers, both domestic and foreign, to get a crack in the casual game market in China. Undoubtedly, the lack of an “official” release date makes many creators impatient. The platform generated 1.7 million installs on the China App Store before it was removed on December 8, according to app analytics firm Sensor Tower.

“When we launched LuoBuLeSi last year, we were taking a long view in China where we wanted to build a platform that would deliver a compelling metaverse experience,” a Roblox spokesperson said. “This goal has not changed.”

Leave a Comment