Roblox shuts down Chinese mobile app to work on a new version
Roblox shut down the Chinese version of its iOS and Android app, also known as LuoBuLeSi, just five months after its release in China, according to a report from TechCrunch. The app, which was rolled out as a test in partnership with Chinese game company Tencent, will be rebuilt and potentially re-released in the country at a later date.
Roblox was officially taken off app stores on December 8th of last year, as announced on a translated version of Roblox China’s website. The post thanks players for testing out the app, and says that developers will “continue to optimize the product.”
“Last year, we launched Roblox China also known as LuoBuLeSi with a vision to build an immersive virtual universe of 3D experiences in China that we have been testing and iterating on along the way,” Roblox spokesperson James Kay said in a statement to The Verge. “It is critical that we now make the necessary investments, including investments in our data architecture, in order to realize our long-term vision for LuoBuLeSi.”
As for why the Roblox app was removed, Kay told The Verge that “a number of important transitory actions are necessary” as the platform prepares to build another version of the app. Kay also didn’t share any additional details about when the new version will be released, noting that the company will make the information public when the time comes.
Roblox’s brief debut in China hasn’t been free of challenges — the Financial Times reports that the platform appeared to struggle against Chinese competitors, like the similar ByteDance-owned Reworld. Aside from that, Roblox encountered an even bigger challenge: China itself. Financial Times notes that Roblox was subject to China’s regulatory standards, despite marketing itself as an educational game, resulting in the censorship of some of its features.
The shutdown of Roblox China, albeit temporary, marks the sudden cessation of yet another popular game in the country. In November, Epic Games closed out a test of Fortnite in China without much of an explanation, despite the game having heavy modifications to comply with China’s strict content rules. Even more surprising, the global version of Steam appears to be banned in China as of late December, perhaps to replace the service with the much more limited Chinese version.
Ahead of all these gaming-related shutdowns, Chinese regulators compared video games to “spiritual opium” and began limiting kids’ screen time to just three hours per week. This is in addition to a curfew that prohibits children from gaming between 10PM and 8AM, which is supposed to fight video game addiction.