Almost two years after the expansion's Western release, Blizzard and NetEase will finally launch World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King
in mainland China at the end of the month.
Beijing-based online game company NetEase has faced a series of issues since taking over operations for World of Warcraft
in China from rival operator The9 in June 2009, including two months of downtime during the transfer process, and a prolonged closed beta
that was expensive to sustain without player revenue.
Earlier this year, NetEase temporarily suspended new user registrations for World of Warcraft
while applying for a Chinese license to operate the MMORPG's first expansion, The Burning Crusade
, as it was pulled into a power struggle between two government regulators, the General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) and the Ministry of Culture (MOC).
The two local government groups eventually settled their dispute and agreed to fine NetEase
for "gross violations" of regulations, presumably referring to morbid in-game icons (e.g. skulls, severed heads), piles of bones, red blood (now black) spewing from monsters, and other content in The Burning Crusade
Wrath of the Lich King
's Chinese version has received similar edits that remove skulls and modify character/creature models, according to a report
from Chinagame.178.com. Despite those changes, Blizzard's CEO Mike Morhaime says, "This expansion contains some of the best content we've ever created for the game, and we're excited that Chinese players will soon have a chance to explore everything it has to offer."
"World of Warcraft
is one of the most popular online games among Chinese players, and we believe that the new content in Wrath of the Lich King will generate even more excitement," adds Netease CEO William Ding. "We are fully prepared on all fronts to provide great service and support to all of the new and returning players throughout China, and we look forward to welcoming them to Northrend."