US video game platform Roblox has removed its Chinese app that was leading its expansion efforts in the country, telling Reuters it was part of “a number of important transitional actions” as it built its next release.
The LuoBuLesi app, which Roblox launched in July in partnership with a subsidiary of Tencent Holdings, was shut down on Dec. 8, disappearing from mainland app stores. The app now shows users a message thanking them for using the trial when they log in.
The app’s importance to Roblox’s expansion into China was discussed prominently in the company’s prospectus for its New York Stock Exchange listing in March, which saw the gaming platform valued at nearly $30 billion (about Rs. 2,22,925 crore).
A Roblox spokesperson told Reuters on Thursday evening that the move was necessary because it is building the “next version of LuoBuLeSi”, but did not say when the app would return.
“We have always known that building a compelling platform in China is an iterative process, and we are grateful for the support from LuoBuLeSi users and our global developer community,” a Roblox spokesperson said.
“It is essential that we make the necessary investments now, including investments in our data architecture, to achieve our long-term vision.”
Tencent did not respond to a request for comment.
Roblox’s platform is known for its virtual world technology, now known as the “metaverse”. The LuoBuLeSi platform is separate from the global version of Roblox and allows users to create and play games, as well as participate in virtual “events”.
Several users have complained on social networks that they did not realize it was a test. The app has been downloaded 1.7 million times according to Sensor Tower, a data analytics firm.
LuoBuLeSi obtained the necessary licenses to operate in China from regulators at the end of 2020.
© Thomson Reuters 2022