At the end of June, Blizzard The launch came just days before the game was due to debut in the country after co-developer NetEase apparently drew the ire of government censors for an ill-conceived social media post. The episode was a reminder of the tight foreign game act that foreign game developers often have to go through to release their games in China.
Now, the newly released documents from provide a rare insight into the steps some companies will take to comply with China’s censorship laws. The release received an internal presentation created by Roblox in 2017 as the company was working towards entering the Chinese market.
In addition to highlighting the lengths Roblox was prepared to go to to appease Chinese censors, the documents reveal the risks the company was willing to take. One of the more interesting tidbits of the presentation is that Roblox expected its game to be hacked, likely by whichever firm it partnered with to bring it. Roblox in China. “Wait the hacking has already started,” says one point. “Expect it to increase once a deal is signed, maybe even by the partner.”
There’s no evidence that Tencent, the company Roblox eventually partnered with, ever targeted the game, but the company clearly had reservations about working with the tech giant. The slides warn that a relationship with Tencent would require Roblox to “stay alert.” Additionally, they show that Roblox also considered working with NetEase and even had a favorable review for the company. “Direct, down-to-earth, flexible problem-solvers, acting in the interest of a joint venture,” reads one slide. It’s unclear why Roblox ultimately went with Tencent over NetEase, but the fact that the former promised “the fastest way to buy mega” probably played a role in the decision.
Roblox did not immediately respond to Engadget’s request for comment, but the company shared a statement with it Motherboard.
“The slide you referenced was from 2017, before we had a formal joint venture relationship,” a Roblox spokesperson told the media. “As normal for a company entering a new market, we consider the risks and opportunities and plan for them.” The spokesperson added that the company’s policy is to respect the laws of the regions where it operates.
In the end, whatever plans Roblox made to ensure a smooth entry into the Chinese market were not enough. Five months after Roblox launched domestically, the company will temporarily take “significant transitional actions.” If you want to read more about the factors that Roblox has considered before entering China, be sure to read on Motherboard full report.