So China has finally lifted the World of Warcraft blackout, no doubt to the joy of both Blizzard and its four-plus-million Chinese fans. Betcha didn’t know that half the WoW players in the world are from this country!
The reason why WoW’s experienced a two month downtime and a long, long closed beta is because of the problems it encountered switching its Chinese operators from The9 to Netease. China’s General Administration of Press and Publications (GAPP), which grants permits for online games before they launch, had approved The9’s license to run Azeroth, but when Netease came into the picture, it was denied thanks to the game’s “unhealthy content,” according to Venture Beat.
The delay has cost Netease quite a bit. Alibaba reports that the internet portal has spent over 1 million yuan per day to maintain WOW’s servers during the “beta testing period” between July 30 to September 14. It also pissed off Chinese players, who ended up flooding and choking up Taiwanese servers when the game was pulled.
So what’s changed to make the game acceptable? Mostly the showing of bones, which the government said was not safe for children. From Gamasutra:
Not only have piles of bones in the NetEase-run Chinese version of World Of Warcraft been newly replaced with sandbags, but the color of blood from some monsters and opponents has been changed from red to black, leading to community jokes about petroleum running through characters’ veins.
In addition, several of World Of Warcraft’s in-game talent tree icons that included skulls, severed heads, and blood have been changed to become boxes. (A previous change — that undead in-game characters have had visible skeletal bone structures ‘touched up’ to remove them — also endures in the NetEase-run version of the game.)