Chinese censors force World of Warcraft offline


With some 11.5 million subscribers playing it worldwide, there is no denying that World of Warcraft is one popular online game. Nowhere more so than in China, where it has been reported around 5 million of those subscribers are based. It should come as no surprise that not everyone in China is a fan, however. Unfortunately for game developers Blizzard Entertainment it would appear that the Chinese government might be in the dislike camp, no surprise there then.

A planned upgrade to the game which involved moving to a new operator in China, an online gaming outfit by the name of NetEase, has been anything but easy. Because it is a foreign game, and the move to a new local operator makes it a new foreign game for good measure, the Chinese government get to put it through a strict approval process.

Some six weeks on, during which time the game has been offline in China, there is still no sign of World of Warcraft getting the approval it needs. The problem being that the Chinese government has objected to some of the new content to be found within the upgraded game, although neither it nor the local operator and Blizzard are saying what is so objectionable. I guess the approval process itself has now become something of a multi-player game, with diplomacy being the most effective weapon against a much more powerful player.

Once the changes have been made, of course, the game then has to be submitted again for the process to start over. Personally I would not hold my breath, considering that the Chinese government has failed to give the Wrath of the Lich King expansion approval even though it has twice gone through the content revision process itself.

About the Author

A freelance technology journalist for 30 years, I have been a Contributing Editor at PC Pro (one of the best selling computer magazines in the UK) for most of them. As well as currently contributing to, The Times and Sunday Times via Raconteur Special Reports, SC Magazine UK, Digital Health, IT Pro and Infosecurity Magazine, I am also something of a prolific author. My last book, Being Virtual: Who You Really are Online, which was published in 2008 as part of the Science Museum TechKnow Series by John Wiley & Sons. I am also the only three times winner (2006, 2008, 2010) of the BT Information Security Journalist of the Year title, and was humbled to be presented with the ‘Enigma Award’ for a ‘lifetime contribution to information security journalism’ in 2011 despite my life being far from over...