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Report: NetEase's  WoW  Chief Resigns

Report: NetEase's WoW Chief Resigns

February 24, 2010 | By Eric Caoili

February 24, 2010 | By Eric Caoili
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Online game operator NetEase, which has faced a number of issues running World of Warcraft in China due to issues with local government agencies, revealed that its WoW director Li Riqiang has resigned.

He joined the company in 2003 and led its marketing department. NetEase announced the project chief's departure in a formal, written statement sent to the press but did not detail for his replacement, according to a report from local financial newspaper National Business Daily translated by China-focused research firm JLM Pacific Epoch.

A representative added that the operator also had no plans to appoint another employee who would be responsible for speaking to the press.

Since taking over WoW in June 2009 from former operator The9 as part of a new deal with Activision Blizzard, NetEase has faced a number of challenges launching the MMORPG. Transferring the title to its servers required two months of downtime and an extended closed beta, which analysts say costed the company a significant amount to sustain without player revenue.

The operator then fell into more trouble when China's General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) ordered to take WoW offline and refuse new account registrations due to "gross violations" of regulations. With the Ministry of Culture's (MOC) blessing to run the game, NetEase refused GAPP's request. MOC followed up that refusal by holding a press conference chastising GAPP.

Despite the public power struggle over China's burgeoning online games business, both government bodies eventually settled their differences last month and reportedly decided on a punishment and fine for NetEase, allowing the company to continue operating World of Warcraft.

Riqiang's resignation follows just a couple weeks after NetEase temporarily suspended new user registrations, a move likely designed to appease GAPP, which announced shortly afterward that it would accept the company's license reapplication for the operation of The Burning Crusade, World of Warcraft's first expansion pack, in China.

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