On December 8, LuoBuLeSi, the Chinese version of Roblox published and operated by Tencent, suddenly shut down its servers. Four months After launching on iOS and Android.
Many users were taken by surprise and complained about the short notice on Chinese social media. What users were playing with was actually a “trial version with no archives”, LuoBuLeSi added a . said in Information, but a user Speak: “Have you seen a test game that lets users add funds to their accounts?”
A Roblox spokesperson said in a statement to Nerdshala, “Last year, we launched Roblox China with a vision to create an immersive virtual universe of 3D experiences in China, which we are testing and relaunching. “
“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 has not responded to Nerdshala’s request for comment.
In May 2019, Roblox and Tencent announced a joint venture with the former holding a 51% controlling stake and Tencent with 49%, a rare arrangement in which a foreign entity commands a majority stake in a Chinese joint venture. In July 2020, LuoBuLeSi launched a android trial version, which explicitly stated that it would clear the user archives when the period expired.
Roblox’s unique offering may take longer to secure regulatory greenlight. LuoBuLeSi has billed it education oriented angle In the beginning. Yet last year, China launched a massive crackdown on the private education sector. China’s increased ban on children’s gaming time was also expected to limit Luo Bullesi’s exposure to younger players.
One may wonder how China’s new data rules have affected foreign Internet service operators in the country. Yahoo and LinkedIn won’t be the last foreign companies to pull their services from the larger market, in response to China’s stringent cross-border data transfer rules.
Roblox’s statement provides a bit of a clue:
“It is important that we make the necessary investments now, including investments in our data architecture, to realize our long-term vision for LuoBuLeSi. We have determined that there are a number of important tentative changes to be made when we build the next version of LuoBuLeSi. Actions are necessary.”
To publish in China, foreign games typically seek a local partner to help with marketing, distribution, and perhaps most important, regulatory compliance and application for gaming licenses.
An ally like Tencent will ensure that LuoBuLeSi’s user-generated plays don’t fall in line with Chinese authorities. LuoBuLeSi is different from Roblox’s global platform and does not have the same stock of games or pool of players. As a result, many Chinese users have moved to the global version via VPN, a common occurrence where the Chinese version of a globally popular title is subject to censorship.
LuoBuLeSi is still the gateway for many developers, both domestic and overseas, to crack China’s casual-game market. With no date set for an “official” launch, there’s no doubt that many creators are impatient. According to app analytics firm Sensor Tower, the platform garnered 1.7 million installs in the China App Store before its removal on December 8.
“When we launched Luobuleasy last year, we wanted to build a platform in China that provided a compelling Metaverse experience,” said a Roblox spokesperson. “That goal hasn’t changed.”