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Leaked documents show the hoops Roblox jumped through to do business in China

In late June, Blizzard launch mere days before the game was set to debut in the country after co-developer NetEase seemingly drew the ire of government censors over an ill-advised social media post. The episode was a reminder of the tightrope act foreign game developers often have to pull off to release their games in China.

Now, newly published documents by  offer a rare insight into the steps some companies will take to comply with China’s censorship laws. The publication obtained an internal presentation created by Roblox in 2017 as the company was working toward entering the Chinese market.

In addition to highlighting the lengths Roblox was prepared to go to appease Chinese censors, the documents reveal the risks the company was willing to shoulder. One of the presentation’s more interesting insights is that Roblox expected its game would be hacked, likely by whatever firm it partnered with to bring Roblox to China. “Expect that hacking has already started,” states one bullet point. “Expect it to ramp up after a deal is signed, possibly even by partner.”

There’s no evidence 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 a relationship with Tencent would require Roblox to “keep our guard up.” Additionally, they show Roblox also considered working with NetEase and even had a favorable assessment of the company. “Direct, down-to-Earth, flexible problem solvers, acting in the interests of a joint venture,” one slide states. It’s unclear why Roblox ultimately went with Tencent over NetEase, but the fact the former promised the “fastest way to mega acquisition” probably played a part in the decision.

Roblox did not immediately respond to Engadget’s request for comment, but the company did share a statement with Motherboard.

“The slide you reference was from 2017, before we had a formal joint venture relationship in place,” a Roblox spokesperson told the outlet. “As normal for a company entering into a new market, we consider risks and opportunities and plan for them.” The spokesperson added the company’s policy is to comply with 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 within the country, the company temporarily to take “important transitory actions.” If you want to read more about the factors Roblox considered before entering China, make sure to read Motherboard’s full report.

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‘Roblox’ sues long-banned user for allegedly terrorizing the platform

 is suing a person it banned years ago for allegedly terrorizing the gaming platform and its community of developers. The Roblox Corporation wants Benjamin Robert Simon to stop his alleged harassment of employees and users on Roblox and elsewhere, and to pay $1.65 million in damages.

In the filing, which was first reported by , the company claims Simon, an alleged “cybermob” leader, “commits and encourages unlawful acts designed to injure Roblox and its users.” Roblox banned him years ago, allegedly for using homophobic and racist slurs, harassing others and sexual harassment. Simon is said to use accounts created by others and hacks to maintain access to the platform.

The suit contains several examples of purported misconduct on Simon’s part. Among them is an allegation that he posted “false and misleading terrorist threats” last month that led to a temporary shutdown of the Roblox Developers Conference in San Francisco. Roblox claims it cost $50,000 to investigate the threat and secure the venue.

In addition, Simon is accused of “glamorizing the April 3, 2018 in San Bruno, California and threatening/taunting a copycat act of terrorism at Roblox headquarters in nearby San Mateo, California.” Roblox also claims he tried to upload a mostly nude photo of himself and images of Adolf Hitler, and attempted to upload a sex game to the platform.

Simon, a popular YouTuber known as Ruben Sim, allegedly profited from videos of stunts that were uploaded to that platform and Patreon. The Roblox Corporation is suing him for, among other things, breach of contract, fraud and allegedly violating both the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and the California Comprehensive Computer Data Access and Fraud Act.

Roblox has tens of millions of daily users, many of whom are kids. Keeping trolls as far away as possible from the platform is important to help protect the platform’s young audience. The lawsuit follows an outage that for three days.

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Nike is building its metaverse inside of ‘Roblox’

Meta and Microsoft aren’t the only companies with ambitions for the metaverse. On Thursday, Nike announced a partnership with Roblox to offer a free virtual playspace called Nikeland. In its current iteration, Nikeland includes minigames such as tag, dodgeball and the floor is lava that players can check out with their friends. Mobile integration allows you to use your phone to translate real-life movement into the game. In that way, you can do things like long jumps and fast sprints. Naturally, there’s also a digital showroom where players can get Nike swag for their avatar.

According to CNBC, that’s only the start of what the brand has planned for the space. In the future, it could host competitions tied to global sporting events. For instance, it could host soccer games when the 2022 World Cup kicks off in Qatar. The showroom could also one day tease future product releases and allow users to co-create items.

It’s no surprise to see Nike partner with Roblox on a metaverse play. With more than 200 million estimated monthly active users, it’s one of the most popular games among kids and teenagers. By offering a free space where those young people can interact with the brand, Nike creates an avenue for them to become its customers in the real world.

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Roblox is now back online without any explanation for long outage [UPDATE]

When Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp went dark a few weeks ago, the Internet was unsurprisingly on fire with speculations and theories, especially considering the timing of the outage. The truth was stranger than fiction, though, and Facebook, now called Meta, attributed it to simple human error. Roblox’s case, however, is still shrouded in mystery even after it has finally gone back online after almost three days of being inaccessible to all gamers.

You might be forgiven for not knowing what Roblox is, especially if you don’t consider yourself to be any sort of gamer. In practice, however, Roblox is more of an open-world virtual sandbox in the same vein as Minecraft, though using higher-quality 3D models than Minecraft’s blocky voxels. It reportedly has over 40 million users daily, so its sudden and unexplained outage naturally made tech headlines.

As of this writing, Roblox is back online, according to a very brief tweet from the company. It’s definitely good news for those who have been waiting since October 29 to enter the virtual world, though some are understandably a bit peeved by the company’s responses to inquiries about the incident.

Roblox’s developers did make it clear that the outage wasn’t due to an external intrusion, otherwise known as a hacking incident. It has nothing to do with Chipotle either, the company also clarified without naming names. Chipotle was offering $1 million worth of burritos in Roblox that you can redeem for real-world food.

Unfortunately, that leaves users questioning what happened to take Roblox down for that long. Given its audience, which includes kids that may have been emotionally affected by the outage, the company should probably issue some statement to answer parents’ questions. While it is insisting that there was no security intrusion, keeping mum even on broad technical details might not inspire confidence in a platform that caters to younger audiences.

Update: Roblox has finally issued an official statement detailing the cause of the outage. In a nutshell, it was caused by a combination of several technical factors that made it more difficult for the company to quickly trace down the source of the error and fix it. Again, there was no security-related incident and Roblox users and their parents can rest assured that their personal information is safe. More importantly, Roblox is committing to implementing policies that will safeguard creators who can become economically vulnerable to outages like this.



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Roblox Getting Back Online After Three-day Global Outage

If any parents rely on Roblox to keep their young kids occupied, then the last three days may have been rather stressful.

The popular online gaming and game creation platform crashed on Thursday, October 28, and it’s taken until Sunday evening to get to the bottom of the issue and restore services.

“Roblox is back online everywhere!” the California-based company said in a tweet on Sunday at about 7:30 p.m. ET, adding: “Thank you for your continued patience as we get back to normal.” Three hours earlier it said it was “incrementally bringing regions back online.”

Roblox is back online everywhere! Thank you for your continued patience as we get back to normal.

— Roblox (@Roblox) October 31, 2021

The company hasn’t offered any details about why the platform went down. Some folks suggested the issue may have been linked to a promotional partnership with Chipotle that launched shortly before Roblox hit the buffers, but the company appeared to reject the claims, tweeting that the outage “was not related to any specific experiences or partnerships on the platform.”

Later, on Saturday, it tweeted another message, saying it believed it had “identified an underlying internal cause of the outage,” adding that it was “in the process of performing the necessary engineering and maintenance work to get Roblox back up and running ASAP.”

Roblox fans — whether those who play it or the parents who love nothing more than to see their kids immersed in it — hit social media to express their frustration at the game’s disappearance, with tens of thousands of people responding to each of the messages posted by Roblox during the downtime.

Roblox describes its offering as “a platform where people from around the world come to play, learn, work, and socialize,” but for the last three days its users have had to go elsewhere for such activities.

The good news is that the company appears to have finally resolved the issue, allowing fans to start the new week with Roblox in full working order.

Want to find out more about Roblox and why it’s so popular with kids around the world? Digital Trends has you covered.

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Roblox will offer layered clothing and facial gestures for more realistic avatars

Roblox wants to make its avatars look less blocky and more realistic, and it has announced a couple of visual updates meant to achieve that goal during its annual developers conference. One of those changes is layered clothing, which it’s been working on since at least 2020. It allows any type of character model to be outfitted with layered clothing items. TechCrunch explains that the feature ensures clothing items will fit avatars and will drape around them naturally, whether they’re human- or dinosaur-shaped. At the moment, players can only access the feature in the beta version of Roblox Studio’s avatar editor, and it’s unclear when it’ll be more widely available.

Roblox CEO David Baszucki said during the keynote:

“Self-identity is a crucial pillar of the metaverse, and the ability to precisely customize your clothing to your unique avatar is paramount in personal expression”

Roblox has also announced a feature called Dynamic Heads that can provide facial animations for avatars. The animations could link with facial tracking, so the character’s mouth can move in time with its words. TechCrunch says the feature was made possible by the company’s acquisition of digital avatar startup Loom.ai last year. 

It’ll be a long time before facial animations become an official part of the game, though — Roblox has only given developers access to it right now, so they can play around with it and test it out. “These releases represent important stepping stones in a long line of innovations to improve the expressiveness and combinatorics in the metaverse,” Daniel Sturman, Chief Technology Officer for Roblox, wrote in his recap for the event.

In addition to the experimental avatar features, Roblox has announced that it’s giving creators a new way to earn money, as well. Creators will be able to put up items they designed for sale for a limited time, turning them into collectibles with higher value than the other goods they’re selling in-game.

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Roblox deal with Sony will create (legal) in-game music experiences

Roblox is rushing to strike official music deals in the wake of a $200 million lawsuit over alleged copyright violations. TechCrunch reports that Roblox has unveiled a team-up with Sony Music that will bring more of the label’s artists to the game platform. The two will collaborate on “innovative music experiences” beyond what you’ve seen so far, including a Lil Nas X concert in November and a Zara Larsson launch party in May.

The companies didn’t say what kind of events you might expect, or when you might see them.

This isn’t Roblox’s first such deal. The gaming giant reached a similar agreement with BMG in June. It does represent Roblox’s largest music pact to date, however, and leaves Universal and Warner as the only two heavyweight labels that haven’t signed agreements.

Roblox might not have much choice but to keep making these arrangements. The music industry sued Roblox for allegedly doing little to stop gamers from making virtual boomboxes that stream copyrighted music. That’s not including Robloxcore and other music designed for game worlds. The developer maintains that it screens uploaded music and cracks down on violators, but that clearly hasn’t been enough for labels convinced Roblox is enabling piracy. Deals could help Roblox persuade Sony, BMG and others to call off their lawsuit, or at least soften the blow.

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Roblox is now home to the Stranger Things Starcourt Mall

Roblox, the online game platform that is popular with kids, is home to another destination full of mini-games and fun: the Starcourt Mall from Netflix series Stranger Things. Startcourt Mall is now part of the Roblox metaverse, according to the company, which says players now have the opportunity to explore the fictional shopping mall in an exclusive experience.

Starcourt Mall is the shopping center featured in Stranger Things Season 3; the destination is themed after an old school 80s-era mall, one that has been “reimagined” for the Roblox platform. Players who check out the new experience will be able to play mini-games based on the TV show, complete quests, and unlock avatar gear inspired by the series.

There are a total of four mini-games in the new Starcourt Mall experience called: Delivery Dash, Dueling Dice, Hi-Score Slingshot, and Hawkins Lab Escape. All of the games can be played with one player, though some of the modes support up to five players. In a statement, Roblox’s VP of Brand Partnerships Christina Wootton said:

Stranger Things is one of Netflix’s most iconic shows, and now it has a persistent space in the Roblox Metaverse where fans can experience and interact with the franchise in exciting new ways. Roblox is the new social hangout, much like the local mall back in the 80s where teens came together. The virtual Starcourt Mall is a similar setting reimagined within Roblox that opens up unique possibilities to engage and grow the show’s global audience.

The mini-games include one set in the Upside Down, as well as one that involves shooting targets with a wrist rocket, racing again the clock in a Scoops Ahoy ice cream parlor, and competing in a dice battle. Rewards for completing quests include Dustin’s Hat, a Demogorgon costume bundle, Eleven’s Headgear, and more.

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