World of Warcraft Ordered to Shut Down in China

By Alice O'Connor, Nov 03, 2009 9:53am PST A Chinese regulatory authority has ordered World of Warcraft's Chinese licensing partner NetEase to cease operating Blizzard's MMORPG in the country, Reuters reports, though it is yet unclear what will happen or whether it has the authority to do so.

The General Administration of Press and Publication's order that NetEase suspend account signups and cease charging is due to the firm collecting fees and allowing registrations during an open beta which began in July, according to Times Live.

The beta ran when NetEase took over from previous licensee The9 and was awaiting approval for the relaunch from the Ministry of Culture--a separate entity which recently took over aspects of online game regulation from GAPP. Blizzard ultimately had to institute several changes--including replacing dead players' skeletons with sandbags and red blood with black--before World of Warcraft relaunched in China in September.

"The chaos is mainly due to the vague demarcation of responsibilities between GAPP and the Ministry of Culture," said Chinese analyst Liu Ning. "It is not yet certain what will happen--to be honest, it depends on who will finally win: GAPP or the culture ministry."

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