Roblox had to take several steps to comply with China’s censorship, a new portion of leaked internal documents has revealed. The company also expected Tencent to clone the game and make its own version for the local audience.

  • Vice obtained the information from Roblox’s internal documents published by a hacker last week.
  • The Chinese version of Roblox titled LuoBuLeSi was launched in July 2021. The company had to host user data on local servers and find a local partner who would operate its gaming platform in the country.
  • Choosing Tencent as its partner, Roblox expected the game to be hacked and cloned by the Chinese tech giant. “Expect that hacking has already started,” the internal presentation from 2017 reads. “Expect it to ramp up after a deal is signed, possibly even by partner.”
  • Roblox was afraid that “hundreds of people” would be working on reverse engineering the game’s code placed on Chinese servers.
  • However, there is no direct evidence of Tencent’s intent to clone Roblox.
  • On top of that, the documents show the extent of censorship in the Chinese games market. Roblox had to make sure that every map created in the game “respect the integrity of the country and not misrepresent the Chinese territory,” including Taiwan.
  • UGC experiences also must not distort historical facts and must not include the names or images of Chinese leaders.
  • LuoBuLeSi was shut down just five months after its launch, with Roblox saying that it was working on a new version. 
  • “As normal for a company entering into a new market, we consider risks and opportunities and plan for them,” a Roblox spokesperson told Vice. “Roblox policy is to comply with the laws of the regions in which we operate, including China.”

It is worth noting that all game developers, including domestic ones, have to deal with similar restrictions in China. The government has been tightening its regulations on the industry for a while now, calling on companies to correctly depict the country’s history and culture and remember a “correct set of values.” Last year, Tencent and hundreds of other Chinese studios pledged to self-regulate the industry and fight online addiction.

Vice’s full report, which contains more information about Roblox’s attempt to enter the Chinese market, can be found here.