The release of Diablo Immortal, a mobile and PC game, has been delayed in China. Is game maker Blizzard banned there?
China has strict censoring rules for games, and they tightened during the tech crackdown of 2021. The communist country also limited how much time children under the age of 18 can spend gaming online.
Blizzard isn't banned in China, the world's largest gaming market
China is the world’s largest gaming market. However, because of the government scrutinizing new games before approving them, there can be dry spells for game releases.
Blizzard isn't banned in China and has been a publishing partner of Chinese internet company NetEase for over 14 years now. In Jan. 2019, the two companies extended their 11-year-long partnership for four more years, until Jan. 2023. In many industries, overseas businesses partner with a Chinese company to navigate the country's market, which can be challenging for foreign companies.
'Diablo Immortal' delayed in China
Diablo Immortal, which was co-developed by Activision-Blizzard and NetEase, has been delayed in China. The title was originally scheduled to release on June 23, but NetEase has delayed it indefinitely. The company cited technical issues and said that the team is making some adjustments to improve players' experience across devices.
Blizzard’s 'Diablo Immortal' Weibo account is banned
Not everyone believes that the delay is due to “technical reasons.” Some have pointed out that Diablo Immortal's Weibo account has been banned for “violating relevant laws and regulations,” though it isn't clear which ones. China is very restrictive of social media in the country. Facebook and Twitter aren't allowed there.
According to Dexerto, a post from Diablo Immortal’s official Weibo account translates into "Why isn't Winnie the bear going out of office yet?" This is of particular interest because critics of Chinese president Xi Jinping have compared him to Winnie the Pooh.
As we saw with Jack Ma and Ant Financial's blocked IPO. criticizing leadership, especially Xi Jinping, can get you into trouble in China. Even using a nickname in a social media post could get Chinese regulators' attention.
Xi Jinping, China's most powerful leader since Mao Zedong, has amended the constitution to effectively declare himself as president for life. Under his leadership, regulatory scrutiny has intensified, and he has faced criticism for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.