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Chinese govt shift sees WoW back online

Tue 22 Sep 2009 8:41am GMT / 4:41am EDT / 1:41am PDT
PoliticsOnline

Blizzard MMO finally returns to country following operator move and political issues

Activision Blizzard

Headquartered in Santa Monica, California, Activision Blizzard, Inc. is a worldwide pure-play online...

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Blizzard's behemoth MMO, World of Warcraft, has finally returned to live service in China following a lengthy spell on the sidelines after changing operators from The9 to NetEase - just as a clarification was issued from the Chinese government on the oversight of online games.

That process of change, which should have been a straightforward swap from one to the other, required a new permit from the Chinese government department, the General Administration of Press and Publications (GAPP) - but that application was held up as the department required Blizzard to make a raft of content changes, including tweaks to the colour of blood from red to black.

The GAPP had hinted back in March that it would target the game amid concerns around the influence of foreign games in China, and while it will still be responsible for licensing overseas online games, the Ministry of Culture (MOC) has now been handed responsibility for general market oversight.

That's also good news for Think Services, whose GDC China event is backed by the MOC - now in charge of conferences and trade fairs - as the GAPP had backed the company's rival event from Howell Expo, China GDC.

World of Warcraft had around 4 million subscribers when the game went offline to change operators, and its expected that most of those players will have remained loyal during the downtime.

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