Is World of Warcraft Facing a Ban in China? - UPDATED

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Is World of Warcraft Facing a Ban in China? - UPDATED

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The Chinese government is reportedly investigating Blizzard's potentially illegal role in operating World of Warcraft in the country and could end up imposing a permanent ban on the game as a result.

The Shanghai News and Publication Bureau is apparently conducting a "deep" investigation into Blizzard's relationship with NetEase at the behest of the government's General Administration of Press and Publication. NetEase is the company Blizzard contracted to operate World of Warcraft in China after its existing deal with The9 expired earlier this year.

Unfortunately for Chinese fans of the game, the handover has not gone smoothly. When The9 halted service on June 7, NetEase wasn't ready to assume control of the operation and at last report the game still hadn't come back online. Now it looks as though the problems may go even deeper, as Blizzard is being accused of trying to skirt around Chinese laws that impose restrictions on the ability of foreign companies to operate online games in the country.

Blizzard may have gone beyond simply providing the game for NetEase to run and actually entered into a joint venture to operate the game in order to increase its take of the game's Chinese revenues, according to a report by mmosite.com. But Chinese law forbids the operation of games in the Chinese market by foreign companies, even in partnership with a Chinese firm.

A media analysis of 2008 financial filings by NetEase initially brought suspicions about its deal with Blizzard to the attention of the videogame industry and the authorities. Two rumors have been swirling around the case ever since: One, that NetEase paid a "sky-high revenue share" in order to gain access to the game, which will quadruple the revenues Blizzard was earning in its deal with The9; and two, that the deal between NetEase and Blizzard, purportedly to provide technical support, is actually "a joint venture to operate World of Warcraft and other games."

Industry analysts in China have said that because the case involves "major regulations and policies," and presumably also the undisputed heavyweight champ of western MMOGs, it is "highly likely" that World of Warcraft's operation will be suspended while the investigation proceeds, assuming NetEase is able to (or bothers to) bring it online at all. If NetEase and Blizzard are found to be in contravention of the relevant laws, the punishment could include a permanent ban on the game in China; the current World of Warcraft downtime has led many Chinese gamers to move to the Taiwan server, but whether the authorities will allow that to continue if the game is permanently banned in China is unknown.

UPDATE: JLM Pacific Epoch says the situation for World of Warcraft may not be as bad as it's been made out. Shanghai Municipal Bureau of Press and Publication Vice Director Chen Songqing said the GAPP's investigation into Blizzard and NetEase is standard procedure for any new business, while a "NetEase chief" also denied rumors of a possible ban, claiming the original report "is seriously inaccurate and its main points and language are inconsistent with the truth."

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Wow thats pretty insane, I would vouch a great deal of the 8million subscribers (?), are chinese, what a huge blow for them!

Wonder if they were dodging the law haha.

-Joe

News Flash! China bans something! Again!

Although banning WoW from China would be a pretty big economical blow. Lots of people = lots of money. Ouch.
Makes you happy not to live in a country that takes the piss out on games more than the writing of the occasional "video games might cause your children to become a satanist" article.

Part of me is saying "Jesus, thats over half the fanbase, this is pretty depressing" while the other half of me is saying "Fuck em. they were probably all gold farmers anyway."

CrafterMan:
Wow thats pretty insane, I would vouch a great deal of the 8million subscribers (?), are chinese, what a huge blow for them!

Wonder if they were dodging the law haha.

-Joe

It went from something like 11 million to 6 million when the Chinese left. Blizzard are barely affected though, their subscription fee is almost nothing compared to outrs.

Wow players aint gonna like that,.

It's Tiananmen Square all over again! But this time instead of an unknown guy standing in front of the tanks it will be a level 80 Tauren Hunter.

coxafloppin:
Wow players aint gonna like that,.

As far as I'm concerned, they will - aren't chinese farmers generally hated on WoW? (Don't know exactly because I quit playing this game after about a week, the moment I realized I was forcing myself to keep on playing, just to see what all the fuss was all about).

Fanusc101:
It's Tiananmen Square all over again! But this time instead of an unknown guy standing in front of the tanks it will be a level 80 Tauren Hunter.

I want somebody to photoshop that. NOW.

Gladion:

coxafloppin:
Wow players aint gonna like that,.

As far as I'm concerned, they will - aren't chinese farmers generally hated on WoW? (Don't know exactly because I quit playing this game after about a week, the moment I realized I was forcing myself to keep on playing, just to see what all the fuss was all about).

Thought the Chinese had their own servers? Surely this won't affect everyone else.

Wait...no more Chinese gold farmers? China's economy could collapse...

There must be a way to make fun of Kotick for this.

So China lose a game, that mostly Americans play. Something tells me the select few people in China that play WoW won't be that fussed, as they've got like five hundred games of the same kind to fall back on.

Sparrow Tag:
So China lose a game, that mostly Americans play. Something tells me the select few people in China that play WoW won't be that fussed, as they've got like five hundred games of the same kind to fall back on.

Heh it is a little more then a five hundred the real number is five milions (but bilizard doesn't make any money out of them as the game card is cheap like hell so it only covers for server cost). So if the ban WoW then bilzard couldn't flash that 10 milion+ users.

Sparrow Tag:
So China lose a game, that mostly Americans play. Something tells me the select few people in China that play WoW won't be that fussed, as they've got like five hundred games of the same kind to fall back on.

It cut the total player base in half. Yea...that's not a significant loss when you consider the lost subscriptions, and those players flocking to another MMO and boost its player base by insane numbers and turning it into a possible rival...

Sparrow Tag:
So China lose a game, that mostly Americans play. Something tells me the select few people in China that play WoW won't be that fussed, as they've got like five hundred games of the same kind to fall back on.

yes Americans....not including any European, Chinese, and any other country Blizzard has brought this game to.

There's alot of dough coming in from China, I'll be damned if Blizzard lets it go through one legal settlement.

but if China bans WoW, then Blizzard will be free to have PANDARANIANS!!

Well...thats about a third of WoWs player base gone.

Ouch...

Those wacky Chinese are always trying to be different, this time they're just copying the wacky Aussies.

SomeBritishDude:
Well...thats about a third of WoWs player base gone.

Ouch...

Half actually, they're down to 5 million now...

Of course, that still dwarfs the next biggest MMO, so :/

Wow. That sucks. China bans everything.

Malygris:

Two rumors have been swirling around the case ever since: One, that NetEase paid a "sky-high revenue share" in order to gain access to the game, which will quadruple the revenues Blizzard was earning in its deal with The9; and two, that the deal between NetEase and Blizzard, purportedly to provide technical support, is actually "a joint venture to operate World of Warcraft and other games."

I still fail to see what the big deal is.

And how does a foreign business manage to remain out of the way completely?

I mean how does McDonalds operate in China?

WoW went from 12 million to about 5. That's a pretty sever blow...

..for the chinese economy. Blizzard has enough to maintain itself.

China has some silly laws but theres around three million wow players there i think so thats a big blow to Blizzard revenues,i hope it works out but if it doesnt i wont really care,Blizzard overprices and not like us euro/americans can play with the chinese,so its business as usual for the western world.

Eruanno:
News Flash! China bans something! Again!

Although banning WoW from China would be a pretty big economical blow. Lots of people = lots of money. Ouch.
Makes you happy not to live in a country that takes the piss out on games more than the writing of the occasional "video games might cause your children to become a satanist" article.

Actually, its more a case of 'Playing games may cause your children to question the authority and wisdom of our glorious government's rule!' Which is probably a more realistic possiblity.

Zimbum:
Wow. That sucks. China bans everything.

China's an authoritian one party state - its what they do.

Its not as bad as the great US ally Sudi Arabia, of course, which is an absolute monarchy where spies are everywhere and even a word of descent can get you deported.

Doug:

Zimbum:
Wow. That sucks. China bans everything.

China's an authoritian one party state - its what they do.

Its not as bad as the great US ally Sudi Arabia, of course, which is an absolute monarchy where spies are everywhere and even a word of descent can get you deported.

Or the US itself which can deny you entry to the country because you have a name similar to someone on the FBI watchlist...

WoW in China brought The9 roughly 300 million USD in annual revenues, not a small amount. Also, China is the third largest MMO market in the world, behind South Korea, and is set to pass South Korea in the next year or two.

It will not be long before Chinese start complaining about American gold farmers.

That would really reduce the gold sellers in the game. Unfortunately it would also reduce the number of regular players.

seule:

Doug:

Zimbum:
Wow. That sucks. China bans everything.

China's an authoritian one party state - its what they do.

Its not as bad as the great US ally Sudi Arabia, of course, which is an absolute monarchy where spies are everywhere and even a word of descent can get you deported.

Or the US itself which can deny you entry to the country because you have a name similar to someone on the FBI watchlist...

Erm, I think you're being pretty flipant about that - in Sudi Arabia, the King's word is law, and his royal princes can do what they want freely, including (it is said) murder and rape, and not have to face criminal prosecution because they are, in fact, the law.

As for China, I'll admit they are slowly getting better, but really, they still crack down on ANY disagreement, and are attempting to filter the internet to remove whatever they disagree with.

That VS a few cases of bloody minded stupidly by FBI guys doesn't really match up. Although it is sodding stupid

The Chinese are truely insane.

Online gaming/advertisments are a fair chunk of its econemy, and banning the heavyweight (for now) champion of MMORPG's is gonna do nothing for them.

You know what? I think the Chinese government are afraid of WoW, because the people that play it give more attention to the game than their own government.

stoid7:
That would really reduce the gold sellers in the game. Unfortunately it would also reduce the number of regular players.

It will have zero effect upon Chinese gold farmers on the US / Oceanic / European servers. By the nature of the game, farmed gold on Chinese servers previously operated by The9 had no way of finding it's way to the servers we all play on. the farmers may be based in China, but they connect to 'Western' servers to do the farming. Think people.

Good, maybe that means we can finally put the Pandaren in the game without worrying about the fucking chinese getting offended.

goldenjester:
Wait...no more Chinese gold farmers? China's economy could collapse...

Which of course leads to the obious fact that the Us is behind this. War?

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