World of Warcraft shutting down in China?

Citing "gross violations," regulator revokes NetEase's permit to operate game in authoritarian nation; internal government power struggle blamed.

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After spending much of 2009 offline, the Chinese version of World of Warcraft has found itself in limbo once again. According to Reuters, the authoritarian nation's General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) has revoked the permit needed to operate the game from Blizzard Entertainment's localization partner, NetEase.

"I'm sorry sir, but that sword just isn't regulation size."

Regulators reportedly claimed that NetEase, which landed the localization contract for the massively multiplayer role-playing game in April, had committed "gross violations" of Chinese law. As a result, GAPP officials ordered NetEase to stop charging players of the game in China and cease accepting any new registrations. It also reportedly rejected the company's application to localize the first WOW expansion, The Burning Crusade.

As a result of the GAPP's move, NetEase saw its shares fall 2.4 percent on the NASDAQ stock exchange to close the day at $37.69. (Shares were down an additional 1.38 percent in after-hours trading.) Reps for the company told Reuters they believe they are in full compliance with the GAPP regulations and were seeking "clarification" as to what exact violations were committed.

Roth Capital Partners analyst Adam Krejcik blamed the sudden revocation on behind-the-scenes jockeying for power by the GAPP and China's powerful Ministry of Culture, which has been leading a crackdown on online gaming all year. "These guys are essentially stuck in the middle of this power struggle," Krejcik said of NetEase.

If World of Warcraft is shut down in China permanently, it will have an adverse effect on the earnings of Blizzard's parent company, Activision Blizzard. Janco Partners analyst Mike Hickey told Reuters that $0.05 could be lopped off the megapublisher's per share earnings, which are expected to be $0.65 for the 2009 fiscal year.

Discussion

476 comments
Crimsader
Crimsader

@ KingXerxes - Bullseye! :lol:

fenriswolf77
fenriswolf77

Yboucher, once again the conclusions you draw from the points I made are simplistic and puzzling. You conclude "I don't want anyone to get rich" because it might blind them to the plight of the poor. If I was saying anything on that topic it would be that the rich should strive not to be so blinded, and show some basic human generosity. China DOES need a finger pointed at it, as does the US, as do many of the worlds countries. All of these countries are oligarchies, run by a small minority of self-serving plutocrats who by far, in general, care more about the size of their purse than they do the fate of their countrymen. This is regardless of whether their mask proclaims them as democratic or communist, etc. Though it is true, despite all the corruption, that some countries have more basic human rights, liberties, and general quality of life than others. The U.S. certainly does not top this list, though I do expect, from the evidence I have seen, it ranks somewhat higher than China. (cont.)

fenriswolf77
fenriswolf77

cont.) And you are wrong. History is very instructive here, and historic examples can be very useful for understanding the present. The Roman example is telling for the state the U.S. is in, on many different levels. And you are also wrong that people are not stupid. Or if stupid is a strong word, then let's say that many, if not a majority, of people are very easily mis-lead. They believe what they are told with very little questioning. If their parents, schools, society tells them it is so, then it is. They are lazy thinkers and don't investigate truths for themselves. Finally, you rather simplistically say I don't know much about China if I mention lead in toys. What you fail to grasp from my previous comments was that "lead in toys" is indicative of the larger problem I was trying to illustrate in China, where an industrial revolution is currently exploding and sadly showing the same lack of restraint, lack of safety standards, and lack of worker rights as the one in Europe did 120 years ago. But you are right, a Gamespot forum is not the place for such a detailed debate, as it stretches beyond the desire and, though it sounds elitist, it is nonetheless true, the intellectual grasp (from the comment I have read) of many people here. Thanks yboucher for the intellectual sparring. I appreciate debating with someone with some deeper insights. But I will waste no more time with this.

insanitycheck10
insanitycheck10

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

ancalimonungol
ancalimonungol

I bet the violation of law was that someone asked a Chinese why his government still keeps invading and enslaving other nations.

firemyth
firemyth

Goatboy is a fruit of the highest order. Like Bananas. :-P Cause getting your point across through religious zealotry has always worked before - goatboy Honestly, get a clue.

Elma007
Elma007

Could the people in China simply play the US version of WOW or would the US version of WOW have country IP blocks in place? I mean if it is just IP blocks couldn't the US version remove it so the people in China can play the US version and therefore not lose so much money over it (provided of course the Chinese people are comfortable with an English version). Or assuming say Hong Kong or Taiwan has their own version and the mainlanders are fine with Traditional Characters then they could possibly play those versions instead? Unless of course the infamous "great firewall of China" blocks them from playing foreign versions of the game.

thcloco
thcloco

Yes, Blizzard is the devil and goatboy is a prophet and he has seen the truth in the trailer for movie 2012

goatboy0088
goatboy0088

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

KingXerxes
KingXerxes

Be not concerned. One day, WoW will be bigger than China.

SaurabhAV
SaurabhAV

@ hobobobo00 Ncsoft is a Korean company lol and Aion is an overpriced grind fest, no thanks. And if anything the Chinese government is doing their citizens a favor my saving them from a virtual addiction. Good job GAPP, now your country can slave even harder to make us our Nike shoes, instead of our WoW gold.

Heshertonfist
Heshertonfist

@Walord_Irochi I agree that living in a democratic nation is certainly better than living in a communist regime country. However this is a video game which is just entertainment. Plus I wasn't complaining, I was merely commenting on the fact the conversation went to so many things that have nothing to do with WOW, Blizzard, Activision, NetEase or even China.

marc5477
marc5477

@Comment1 You are correct that the US is the biggest importer of the world (which is why the world is so dependant on the US), but you are incorrect in assuming that factories dont already exist in the US. They do! Most companies started in the US and already have factories in the US but they have simply shrunk their operations in favor of cheap outsourcing. None of the big manufacturers have completely shut down their US operations (that would be grossly irresponsible and no shareholder would let them get away with it). I will bet you my house that if given a choice, those companies would all rather be producing in their home country (US) than in a foreign nation. The only driving factor to outsourcing is money. If money is no longer a factor (dollar continues to decline) then you can bet your backside that they will all be back in the US asap. There are other pressures to moving jobs back to the US as well but money is what drives companies and ultimately if the dollar stays weak or gets weaker, China will ultimately be hit the hardest in the world.

prioritymail
prioritymail

Oh no! Where will we buy our farmed gold now?

MajorGamer531
MajorGamer531

They only did this to the localization company, Blizzard just has to come up with how they will end their deals with NetEase and get localized with another company.

aura_enchanted
aura_enchanted

also 0.05 per share that means roughly china makes uo 15% of there earnings !!

aura_enchanted
aura_enchanted

@ charliefubar naw when that happens there will be a war in your own back yards to kill the gamers.. wich we will win with our superiorly dexterous fingers..

hobobobo00
hobobobo00

i bet NCsoft bribed them to do this so that everyone would play aion instead

clqtte
clqtte

I think Blizzar forgot to donate some big buck to some red big guy in Beijing..That's why this happen...

yboucher
yboucher

@bloodyrooster I'm sorry, how do you know this again? A "federal offense" ? No. It's a case of WoW being caught up in a battle between a Ministry, and a censorship agency, over who controls online games. WoW is the highest profile case, but it is NOT the only one here, and there are other publishers, and other players in the industry over here altogether that have been caught up in this political battle, including GDC China. There are absolutely NO laws being broken or "federal offenses" being commited here. Just political rambling, and companies and products being held hostage in the middle. I've been working in the industry in Shanghai for a few years now, trust me, this is how it works.

maxwell97
maxwell97

"...you can't control the economy without controlling people."

Warlord_Irochi
Warlord_Irochi

@ FF_fan2004: So true, nice one man. @Heshertonfist The case is: what do you prefer?; Democracy or a totalitariam regime (warever side it is). You people that talk so lightly about how corrupt is democracy should try to suffer a fascist-catholic state as we did in Spain and how, almost every month, a new commond burial is found somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Belive me, if you live in a democratic country you are living in one of the less-bad places of the world. (Man I sound like a old man here LOL)

vengeance00
vengeance00

@ -Unreal- so you just commented to say that you find my comment meaningless? alright, i find you comment meaningless as you are using a top ten list that estimates people playing games who also have the program. if you took the list that seriously then wow would not have 11 million players only ranking 24k+ hours, i got a friend whos contributed 600+ hours alone from 4 years back.

itzmec
itzmec

no, but i have heard of the word jockeying.

bloodyrooster
bloodyrooster

@yboucher I appreciate the response, however what actually happened is Blizzard jumped from one Chinese company to another. This is the critical reason for the ban of Blizzard from China. In communist China you can't treat it like capitalism. The government protects large corporations. What Blizzard did was a federal offense by moving from one corporation to the next to pay less for server space and try and get away with more blood. There was an ongoing investigation the day they tried to move to netease and the government blocked it. (WOW never got off the ground with netease, since it wanted to make the move early summer)

UnknownForm
UnknownForm

@chaosbrigade Have you ever heard of the word, "Jokeing". I didn't think so...

jmaxdeathscythe
jmaxdeathscythe

watch this lead to so much civil unrest that theres a civil war in china

fiskefyren
fiskefyren

pwned blizzard you ******* xD i feel no saddens for you people.

krasimir7
krasimir7

Well, I hear it's an attempt to extort money from Blizzard.

Comment1
Comment1

@Flonne_N_Etna Do you know how big China is? I don't know how valuable it is to go to some massive city in China if you want to know about China. Also, being alive in the 21st century doesn't help much if you want to know how stuff happened. It's not good to barge into places and encourage everyone to shut up about interesting things and stop getting educated via books. If you feel out of your depth, just give a dizzy giggle and leave.

Comment1
Comment1

@marc5477 "And if they release all those dollars what would happen? They would only destroy themselves because everyone would buy American products instead of Chinese and all the jobs would go back to the US. People in the US would benefit greatly from a low dollar because #1) they do not need imports to begin with because everything can be produced there internally (as it was in the 20th century), #2) it would bring back all their outsourced jobs, #3) the export business would grow exponentially, #4) tourism would grow exponentially. The only reason the US does not produce internally now is because it is so much cheaper to do it elsewhere." US is the biggest importer in the world. If the $ goes down too far it will be unable to import so much, and millions across the globe would face unemployment. However, America is in no position to start making stuff itself. It costs money to build factories, modern hi-tech manufacturing technology is a forte of countries like Germany; you can't simply 'start building a few million microchips' and modern precision products. Chinese factory labour usually only have village farming as an alternative, I don't know if Americans would be so willing to take wages predominantly for they'e children's education and be unable to afford any of the things they're manufacturing. You might want to research 'petrodollar'. If major oil states move to the Euro because of a weak dollar, I'm afraid the whole game changes.

Flonne_N_Etna
Flonne_N_Etna

What's with the random debate over politics/culture/economics? Just stop assuming things if you had not been in China. Wikipedia and textbooks are not what you are supposed to rely on. P.S Its gamespot, not politics/culture/economics/random****spot

penpusher
penpusher

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

FinalDuo1886
FinalDuo1886

I still believe this wouldn't be a problem if they were still gold farming out there, but that just me. :D

Vorodor21
Vorodor21

Good...maybe now less accounts will be hacked.

OwnageGuy
OwnageGuy

sigh. dunno which gaming community is worse: Australia or China.

gameking5000
gameking5000

China's has serious problems with it's government not just in gaming

darklord2065
darklord2065

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Kleeyook
Kleeyook

Who cares! It's the downside of MMO games. No server, no way to play. :(

jim4604
jim4604

China's government promotes corruption at all levels. If you disagree just study it chinese goverment and history. There was definitely some power struggle in the government and whoever was on NetEase side lost. I just feel bad for the company really, and the chinese people

BigBangWiscite
BigBangWiscite

authoritarian nation? China is totalitarian. Since when did China make games? Gamespot gone soft on the so-called People's Democratic Dictatorship.

Skiveron
Skiveron

lol why do everytime there is a news story about warcraft a couple of ignorant posters only post about gaming addictions related to it and such? A game is not a drug, it doesnt force you to play it. If people get addicted to it, its their fault, not warcraft's. And secondly, not everyone that plays/played that game is or was "addicted".Finally, Wow's biggest nerdy feature, the achievement system, is a direct rip-off from xbox360. FYI I havent played warcraft for 2 years, and dont plan to return.

XanderZane
XanderZane

WoW will need to find a new company to run it over in China. Might take a while to get it back up and running. I'm sure Blizzard will find a way to get this resolved. There are 1000's of MMORPG in China, so this won't be a complete deal breaker.

yboucher
yboucher

@bloodyrooster I'm sorry, but you're talking through your a**. China is Blizzard's biggest profit-maker after the US. And the way you're talking about "communism" and "companies being protected by the government"... well, it's just not how it happens. Especially not in the game industry. You have companies who have connections to the government, that's all. Just like in any other country.

yboucher
yboucher

@fenriswolf77 very easy and short question: how long have you spent in China? Any time at all? If you're quoting lead in toys and toothpaste, i'm guessing zero. Your points are all very virtuous, but it looks to me like you are just trying to get the upper moral hand. What do you want, for people not to get rich, because it will blind them to the poverty of others? I'd say you should focus on how the US is doing that to the entire rest of the world, before you point the finger at China, really. And you're brining in the Roman empire; you're really mixing up a whole bunch of things that shouldn't necessarily be mixed up. If you wanna talk "future of China" (which, really, is something that is discussed on a daily basis here, needless to say, nobody is stupid; and I hear people (here) saying what you say EVERY day, even I say it myself once in a while), I don't think Gamespot comments is the place for it, and I'm pretty sure a more thorough analysis would be in order.