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Roblox shuts down Chinese mobile app to work on a new version

Roblox shuts down Chinese mobile app to work on a new version

According to a report in TechCrunch, just five months after its release in China, Roblox has discontinued the Chinese version of its iOS and Android apps, also known as Luobuleasy. The app, which was launched as a trial run in partnership with Chinese games company Tencent, will be rebuilt and potentially re-released in the country at a later date.

Roblox was officially removed from the App Store on December 8 last year, as announced on the translated version of Roblox China's website. The post thanks players for testing the app, and says the developers will "continue to optimize the product."

"Last year, we launched Roblox China in China to create an immersive virtual universe of 3D experiences that we're testing and iterating," Roblox spokesman James Kay said in a statement to The Verge. "It is important that we now make the necessary investments, including investments in our data architecture, to realize our long-term vision for LuoBuLeSi."

As to why the Roblox app was taken down, Kay told The Verge that "a number of critical transitory actions are necessary" as the platform prepares to produce another version of the app. Kay 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 from challenges - the Financial Times reports that the platform was struggling against Chinese rivals, such as ByteDance-owned Reworld. Beyond that, Roblox faced an even bigger challenge: China itself. The Financial Times noted that Roblox was subject to regulatory standards in China, despite marketing itself as an educational game, resulting in censorship of some of its features.

The shutdown, albeit temporary, of Roblox China marks the sudden shutdown of another popular game in the country. In November, Epic Games stopped testing Fortnite in China without explanation, despite heavy modifications to comply with China's strict content rules. Even more surprising is that the global version of Steam has been banned in China until the end of December, perhaps to replace the service with a more limited Chinese version.

Before all these gaming-related shutdowns, Chinese regulators compared video games to "spiritual opium" and began limiting children's screen time to just three hours per week. This is in addition to a curfew that bans children from gaming between 10 pm and 8 am, which is believed to fight video game addiction.

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