According to a statement released by Netease earlier today, the General Administration of Press and Publication has suspended government approval for their operating World of Warcraft. As if WoW players didn’t have enough problems earlier this year, the GAPP cited “gross violations of regulations” as the reason behind suspending NetEase’s operating rights to the massively popular online game.
The [GAPP’s] statement indicates that GAPP is returning Shanghai EaseNet’s application for approval and Shanghai EaseNet should suspend charging users to play the game and not allow new account registrations. GAPP also notes in its statement that it is evaluating whether to impose administrative penalties on Shanghai EaseNet.
The GAPP’s announcement was certainly nowhere out of the blue. NetEase had launched World of Warcraft in China this September without first seeking explicit approval from the GAPP, contending that the Ministry of Culture had already approved the game’s content.
There has been much speculation as to whether the GAPP is actually reprimanding NetEase for not following protocol or whether the organization is simply slapping the company on the wrist for going to the Ministry of Culture for approval rather than the GAPP. This is what happens when a government has two bodies that perform the same task, and really only adds red tape to an already exasperating process of approval.
NetEase is not the only online gaming company that may incur losses from government regulation. As previously reported, China recently decreased the stream of incoming online games in an effort to control game content. However, rather than dooming this extremely lucrative industry in China (there is an expected 30-50% growth in China’s gaming industry this year), the government simply set caps on foreign investment in the online gaming business.
With a temporary hiatus on NetEase’s WoW success due to a squabble between two government organizations about ‘who’s bigger’, there seems to only be more headaches down the road for online gamers in China… and for the Taiwan servers they invariably turn to.