Chinese government agencies battle over Warcraft

World of Warcraft was relaunched in China without approval from one regulator

A Chinese government agency halted its approval process for hit online game World of Warcraft to operate in the country on Monday, deepening its struggle with another agency for power over China's online game sector.

China's publishing regulator returned an application by NetEase, the game's local operator, for approval to operate the game with its first expansion pack, "The Burning Crusade," the agency said in a statement on its Web site. That version of the game was previously operated in China by another partner of Blizzard Entertainment, the game's creator. But China requires new operators of foreign-made online games to submit them for approval and content screening even if the games have been through the process before.

NetEase, which also operates a major local portal, began operating World of Warcraft in September without approval from the publishing regulator, the General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP), the agency said. The agency ordered NetEase to stop collecting game fees from players and allowing new players to sign up for accounts.

NetEase did get approval from China's cultural ministry to launch the game. But companies in the past have always received approval from GAPP before launching online games, said Eric Wen, managing director at Mainfirst Securities Hong Kong.

"What NetEase has done is something that nobody has done before," said Wen. "The game is still running and, according to NetEase, it has not done anything illegal."

GAPP wants to shut the game down, but whether it will be able to do so is unclear, Wen said.

GAPP last month promised to clean up "unhealthy" content like violence and pornography in China's online gaming sector. State media have amplified concern among many Chinese that online games like World of Warcraft are causing young players to become addicted to the Internet.

A second expansion for World of Warcraft, "Wrath of the Lich King," launched last year but has not been approved for release in China. China could fall even farther behind as Blizzard is also working on a third expansion.

Past changes made to the game to appease Chinese regulators have included dressing skeletons up in flesh to appear as human bodies.

NetEase did not immediately reply to a request for comment. A Blizzard spokeswoman declined to comment.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Owen Fletcher

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill


I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?