Roblox may be enjoying success in many parts of the world, but it is currently in limbo in China. TechCrunch has learned Roblox temporarily shut down the Chinese version of its gaming platform, LuoBuLeSi, on December 8 for some “important transitional actions” needed to develop a future version. The company was shy about what these moves involved beyond “data architecture,” but a spokesman said creating the platform for China was an “iterative process.”
The break did not thrill the fans. Roblox released LuoBuLeSi just five months before the shutdown, and many players felt that the company warned them too short a time. They also didn’t buy an officer affirmation they were playing a trial version, watching they could still spend real money.
There’s a chance that China’s strict digital rules have played a role. The Chinese government requires game licenses and Roblox has more challenges than most developers. Its role as a creative platform could easily attract the concern of Chinese censors concerned about dissent, and the attempt to present LuoBuLeSi as a digital education system may have caught the attention of authorities cracking down on private education. China’s data protection rules may also have contributed to the decision, dictating where and how Roblox stores user information.
Whatever the reasons, the temporary interruption underscores the difficulties foreign game developers have in China. Not only do they need to compete in one of the biggest markets in the world, they also need to avoid confrontation with a government that sometimes has a very different agenda.
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