Two years after pausing service, Roblox China cuts a few staff members
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Two years after pausing service, Roblox China cuts a few staff members

As the Chinese gaming market undergoes transformations, Roblox and Blizzard Activision face challenges such as downsizing and seeking new partners.

Roblox China held great potential when it first launched as a collaborative venture with Tencent. However, for nearly two years, the platform’s operations came to a sudden halt, leaving the company silent about its position in the world’s second-largest gaming market. That silence has now been broken.

TheOrcTech has uncovered that Roblox China, also known as LuoBu (罗布乐思), recently initiated a round of layoffs in October. A Roblox spokesperson confirmed to TheOrcTech that 15 positions, which represented a “limited number” of Roblox China’s teams in the U.S. and its headquarters in Shenzhen, were affected by this move.

The decision to downsize was made following an evaluation of the operational structure supporting LuoBu. The spokesperson explained, “Those employees whose roles were impacted have been informed. These actions are specific to LuoBu and its unique business and operational requirements. No other teams within LuoBu or at Roblox are affected.”

Roblox did not provide additional details regarding the specific roles that were eliminated. According to Boss Zhipin, a prominent recruitment platform in China, Roblox China’s headcount falls within the range of “100-499.”

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These recent layoffs came on the heels of a significant reduction in Roblox’s talent acquisition team, marking a shift in focus from expansion to the company’s bottom line.

TechCrunch has also reached out to Tencent, the joint venture partner with Roblox in LuoBu, for their comments on these layoffs.

In 2019, Tencent and Roblox formed a joint venture in China, with Roblox holding a controlling stake of 51%. This was a unique arrangement where the foreign entity had the majority share. The primary goal was to develop a localized version of Roblox’s gaming platform, renowned for its user-generated games. Tencent would provide the necessary gaming license to allow its foreign partner to operate in China.

Running a platform that relies on user-generated content in China poses the challenge of ensuring compliance with Beijing’s censorship regulations and cross-border data rules, which can be vague and intricate. Consequently, when LuoBuLeSi, the Chinese counterpart of Roblox, suddenly suspended its services in December 2021, its informed users weren’t entirely surprised.

Roblox was candid about the unique challenges it faced in China, stating, “We always knew that building a compelling platform in China is an iterative process, and we are thankful for the support of LuoBuLeSi users and our global developer community.”

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There is no indication that Roblox is giving up on its China aspirations. Regarding the recent layoffs, a company spokesperson affirmed, “We remain committed to our long-term vision and plan for the LuoBu platform in China.”

Roblox is not alone in encountering challenges within the Chinese gaming market. Blizzard Activision, the California-based gaming publisher responsible for titles like World of Warcraft and Overwatch, initiated a reduction of its operations in China in January. This move came following the expiration of its 14-year licensing agreement with its local partner, NetEase. Blizzard Activision announced its intention to seek a new publishing partner after the contract termination.

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