Roblox discontinues service in China ahead of major revamp

Roblox may have success in many parts of the world, but it is currently in limbo in China. Take Crunch I learned that Roblox temporarily shut down the Chinese version of its game platform, LuoBuLeSi, on December 8th for some “important temporary measures” needed to develop a future version. The company has been shy about what these moves involve outside of the “data architecture”, but a company spokesperson said that crafting the platform for China was an “iterative process”.

The stop did not impress the fans. Roblox only launched LuoBuLeSi five months before the shutdown, and many players felt the company gave them too short notice. They also didn’t buy an official claim that they were playing a demo version, stating that they can still spend real money.

There is a possibility that China’s strict digital rules may have played a role. The Chinese government requires licenses for games, and Roblox faces more challenges than most developers. Its role as a creative platform could easily have alarmed Chinese censors wary of dissent, and the attempt to promote LuoBuLeSi as a digital education system may have caught the attention of officials who have cracked down on private education. It was also possible that Chinese data protection rules may have contributed to the decision by deciding where and how Roblox stores users’ information.

Whatever the reasons, the pause highlights the difficulties foreign game developers are facing in China. Not only do they have to compete in one of the largest markets in the world, but they also have to avoid clashes with a government that sometimes has an entirely different agenda.

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