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Posts with tag China

Hearthstone demos on iPad at CN Hearthstone conference

At a Hearthstone conference (the CN Hearthstone conference, to be exact), Blizzard pulled out the stops and gave a demonstration of Hearthstone for the iPad. We've been hearing that the game will be on tablets since BlizzCon, but although there's a video you can watch here of the game running on an iPad, there's still no specific news of a release date for the device. Watching the video, it's clear that Hearthstone runs very well on the device, and is easy to control with the tablet scheme.

Alex Dai, Blizzard's General Manager for Greater China, had some comments about how game balance and new cars will be handled as well. Head on over to 2P.com to watch the video, or follow us behind the break.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, Hearthstone Insider

WoW Archivist: WoW in China, an uncensored history -- part 2

Joyland statues
WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

In China, few Western games have been more embraced than World of Warcraft. But few games have endured more scrutiny from the government and more interruptions. As WoW Archivist covered two weeks ago, Chinese players have put up with censorship, endless waits for expansions, and intense bureaucratic meddling that shut the servers down for months. But their enthusiasm for the game remains.

Today, we will look at the more recent years of WoW in China, the raiding scene there, and the game's impact on popular culture, including a certain infamous theme park...

Too soon, Executus

After sorting out issues with the Ministry of Culture and GAPP (General Administration of Press and Publications), WoW operator NetEase was on a roll. Though Cataclysm also faced delays, it launched in China on July 12, 2011 -- just half a year after the Western release. By the standards of prior expansions in China, this release was practically instantaneous.

In a bitter irony, however, the expansion actually arrived too soon.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

WoW Archivist: WoW in China, an uncensored history

Official Chinese WoW site
WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

A few weeks ago, we learned that ten men had been sentenced to two years' imprisonment in China for hacking WoW accounts and selling the stolen gold. It was not the first time that hackers have been punished by the state in China.

The relationship between WoW and China has often been contentious, going back to the early years of the game. While most players there have simply tried to enjoy the game they love, censorship, politics, and illicit activities have all had an impact on their experience.

As we wrap up the Mists of Pandaria expansion, let's not forget that so much of the culture, history, and geography of the expansion was inspired by the real legends and landscapes of China. Today, let's look at the history of WoW in China -- a history as rife with conflict as Pandaria's own.

Pop stars and cola fuel WoW's launch

From the earliest stages, Blizzard had little reason to doubt that WoW would be a hit in China. When the beta signups became available in April 2005, approximately 100,000 people signed up in the first hour. The beta achieved 500,000 concurrent players.

For the Chinese version of WoW, Blizzard partnered with Shanghai-based company The9, who could better handle localization, support, and customer service. The9 launched the classic version of the game on June 7, 2005.

Coca-Cola partnered with The9 to promote the game. For their ads, Coke brought in pop stars such as Taiwanese band S.H.E. (already covered by WoW Archivist), Super Voice Girl winner Li Yuchun, and Olympic gold medalist Liu Xiang. Although -- or perhaps because -- the TV ads broke China's rules against showing game content on TV, the cross-promotion was a huge success.

(As a side note, Pepsi later struck back with a partnership with Guild Wars the following year. Reportedly, Guild Wars' closed beta was delayed a week in China after Coca-Cola complained about The9's deal with their biggest competitor.)

Within the first month, The9 reported 1.5 million active WoW players in China. Although many Chinese citizens had already been playing on Western realms, this was still a huge achievement at the time for a Western MMO in China.

Unlike the West, most gamers in China play in Internet cafes, and MMO subscriptions are almost always handled on an hourly basis. At launch, WoW authorization keys cost 30 yuan and gametime cards were 0.45 yuan per hour. That converts to about $4 for game access and 6 cents per hour.

Like their Western counterparts, China's realms had their share of launch problems. Long queues and lag plagued realms in the East, too. By early 2006, players had grown increasingly dissatisfied with The9 and threatened a boycott. The9 claimed that difficulty with communicating with Blizzard was behind poor realm performance.

Soon enough, poor realm performance would be the least of players' concerns.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

Hearthstone heads to China with NetEase

Hearthstone heads to China with NetEase
NetEase is the company who brought World of Warcraft, as well as Starcraft II to the Chinese market. They have worked with Blizzard since 2008, and provide online services including other online games outside their partnership with Blizzard. Their latest announcement, the Wall Street Journal reports, is that Hearthstone will join WoW and Starcraft in NetEase's catalogue of games.

You'll also remember NetEase from their amazing World of Warcraft Mah-Jong set, which WoW Insider featured a little while back. Unfortunately that never made it to the worldwide market, as the special edition of 1,000 was all the sets that were ever made.

Hopefully, Hearthstone will be another great success for NetEase's collaboration with Blizzard, as other CCGs and TCGs enjoy considerable popularity in the market, with fully translated cards for games such as Magic: The Gathering available and national tournaments taking place regularly.

Filed under: Hearthstone Insider

WoW Archivist: Life and death

Phoenix mount
WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

World of Warcraft is without a doubt a massive cultural phenomenon unlike any other online game to date. It has given us countless hours of entertainment, introduced friends and couples to one another, and touched the lives of millions. For some, the game has made a bad situation better, or even -- in at least one case -- possibly saved their lives. For others, it has cost them everything.

Fair warning: This column describes some intense and tragic events.

Hans and the moose

In 2007, twelve-year-old Hans Jørgen Olsen of Norway and his sister (ten) decided to take a shortcut through a garden on their way to school. The choice would prove fateful. A moose had wandered into the area and promptly took a dislike to the children.

"It ran straight towards us when it saw us," Hans told Norwegian news station Nettavisen. "I screamed at it to scare the moose, but I soon realized that it was not going to stop. Then I turned and ran and ran until I couldn't run faster."

The charging moose caught up to Hans and slammed into him. His backpack cushioned the blow, but the impact knocked Hans to the ground.

Unsatisfied, the moose remained. "We held eye contact for a while," Hans said, "and then it suddenly struck me."

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

25-man raids have harder challenges and better rewards on Asian realms

Difficulty level Asian

The European raiding team Method had a chance to interview Ion Hazzikostas, World of Warcraft's Lead Encounter Designer. Most of the discussion centered around the recently released item upgrade system that came in patch 5.1. One of the more interesting tidbits is how item rewards and raids are slightly different in Asia compared to the European and North American regions.

Ion Hazzikostas

How does the upgrading system work on the Asian servers? From what I have seen their items are upgradable not 2, but 4 times. Won't this result in a problem while tuning the bosses of the next content?

Ion: The way it works in Asia, we actually use the upgrade system to create the distinction between 10 player and 25 player that we previously announced for 5.1. So in Korea, Taiwan and China, when you kill a boss in 25 player mode, it drops an item that is already 2/4. So instead of 496, it drops as 504 but can be upgraded 2 more times, so effectively they are 8 ilvls higher but you are still only upgrading any item twice. The other thing that is changed in 5.1, is actually that all 25 player bosses have 8% more health and do 8% more damage, than they do in the US or Europe. It is a bit more like the Wrath of the Lich King system, where 25man is just harder and drops higher item level loot but in theory doing 25 player with 25 player loot in Asia should be the same as doing 25 with 25 loot in Europe/US.

Items that drop in 10-man raids have 0/2 upgrades. Items that drop in 25 man raids have 2/4 upgrades. This is similar to the Wrath of the Lich King model of rewards. Blizzard has already stressed that Asian realms aren't used as "experimental realms" for possible system changes in other regions around the world. In other words, it isn't likely that we'll see these types of reward systems in place anytime soon. But it's an interesting solution to the whole 10 man vs 25 man raiding issue and logistics incentives.

The interview dove into other topics such as:

  • Brawler's Guild
  • Dominance Offensive
  • Current raiding discussion

To those of you who play on Asian realms, we'd love to hear from you regarding your raiding experiences and this reward structure. 25-man raids seems to be the dominant raiding format compared to 10-man raids in that region.


Mists of Pandaria is here! The level cap has been raised to 90, many players have returned to Azeroth, and pet battles are taking the world by storm. Keep an eye out for all of the latest news, and check out our comprehensive guide to Mists of Pandaria for everything you'll ever need to know.

Filed under: News items

The Lawbringer: Dispelling the panda myths

Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Mathew McCurley takes you through the world running parallel to the games we love and enjoy, full of rules, regulations, pitfalls and traps. How about you hang out with us as we discuss some of the more esoteric aspects of the games we love to play?

With the announcement of Mists of Pandaria and the inclusion of the Pandaren race in World of Warcraft, the most-asked question that I received was "How is this possible with the laws in China against killing pandas in video games?" The second most-asked question was "How is this possible when Kung Fu Panda will just sue Blizzard?" After I got over the initial hilarity of imagining the actual Jack Black-voiced Kung Fu Panda taking a dude to court, I realized that the myths about China's involvement with pandas in games, as well as what constitutes a real cause of action in terms of copying characters, are finally issues at the forefront of WoW topics.

The Lawbringer is all about pandas today. You might be sick of them, you might love them, or heck, you might be on the panda fence. I can promise you that even if you aren't a Pandaren fan, you just might learn a little something or two from today's all-panda fun. Sit back, relax, get all Zen-like, and let's see what the Pandaren have to offer us.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer, Mists of Pandaria

The Lawbringer: China, forced labor, and why we must stop buying gold

Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Running parallel to the games we love and enjoy is a world full of rules, regulations, pitfalls and traps. How about you hang out with us as we discuss some of the more esoteric aspects of the games we love to play?

Gold selling is a multi-billion dollar industry that spans the globe, with a healthy portion of in-game currency sales originating from China. It's a cheap operation to start up -- all you need is cheap labor, some computers, a PayPal account, and a copy of World of Warcraft. The overhead is low and the payoff is big because the demand is present for the supply. People have a perceived need to buy gold, so more people sell gold, which allows the market to grow. It won't stop, either, as tradable virtual currency from all types of games hit the gray market.

What happens when an industry with low overheads becomes too profitable? What happens when a relatively simple setup like gold farming goes from the quaintness of cottage industry to a virtual currency-fueled industrial revolution? People start getting ideas when money is sitting there on the table, ready and waiting to be snatched up by the stalwart businessman. Combine that sentiment with the corruption and profit motives of institutions and a labor force that is for all intents and purposes free, and you get the sad tale of prisoners in China and the people in charge.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

Chinese prisoners forced to farm gold

The Guardian ran a heartrending story yesterday about prisoners in China forced to farm gold on behalf of their prison bosses. After spending their day doing backbreaking labor, they would spend the evenings farming gold in games like World of Warcraft.

According to the report, it's likely that the prison bosses made more money from the sales of these online currencies than they did even from prisoners' manual labor. If prisoners were unable to produce enough gold during their shift, they would be physically punished.

"They would make me stand with my hands raised in the air and after I returned to my dormitory they would beat me with plastic pipes. We kept playing until we could barely see things," said one prisoner in the report.

Blizzard's been fighting gold farming practices for a long time; we'll likely never see "legal" gold selling if Blizzard can doing anything about it. This story illustrates one more reason you should not support these services.

Note: Comments on this post will be closely monitored. Racial insults, personal attacks or any of that nonsense will be deleted. Repeat offenders will be banned.

Filed under: News items, Economy

The Lawbringer: WoW in China


Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Running parallel to the games we love and enjoy is a world full of rules, regulations, pitfalls and traps. How about you hang out with us as we discuss some of the more esoteric aspects of the games we love to play?

We've all heard about the now-infamous request for Blizzard and NetEase to remove all forms of skeletons and other material from the Chinese release of Wrath of the Lich King, which finally was released in China on Aug. 31, 2010. What on earth is going on with Blizzard, NetEase, China and all that jazz? This week, The Lawbringer looks at the general video game climate in China, talks a little bit about how things are different for WoW players in China, and helps clarify some of the craziness going on about that whole skeleton debacle.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

Wrath of the Lich King: China's version

China is rejoicing at the release of Wrath of the Lich King (finally!), but the game they will be playing looks a little different from the version everyone else is playing now. Chinagame.178.com, a Bejing-based English site for gaming news has posted an interesting article with some screenshots of just what will be changing in Wrath. Included are shots of the before and after purging of skulls from various items in the game, as well as some surprising model changes.

The censorship issue isn't exactly a new one -- changes have been made to the game dating all the way back to when The9 was handling the property. But it's still interesting to see exactly how an expansion like Wrath, which is centered around a storyline involving the Lich King, master of the undead, has been adapted to make it suitable according to China's requirements. It does make me wonder though -- what's Icecrown Citadel and the final fight against the Lich King himself going to look like? Is China going to miss out on Marrowgar's bonestorms? Check out the full article for screenshots and commentary.

[Thanks, Gabriel!]

Filed under: News items, Wrath of the Lich King

China is finally getting Wrath of the Lich King

It's been a long, hard, ridiculous road for Blizzard to get the Chinese government's approval to make Wrath of the Lich King content available to their citizens. So ridiculous, in fact, that it's difficult to nail down just which related stories are the most important. We could tell you about:
And there's a ton more to it. But we might finally be nearing the end of this sordid story, according to the Wall Street Journal. Wrath of the Lich King is set to launch in China next week, barring any more instances of draconian politics, censorship, or mismanagement. Let's just hope that nobody in China wants to play as a death knight.

Filed under: Wrath of the Lich King

Blizzard's Frank Pearce predicts renewed subscriber growth with Cataclysm, China

If you've been following World of Warcraft's published subscriber numbers for a while now, you know that we haven't seen a rise in WoW subscribers since late 2008. Blizzard's been holding steady on a figure of 11.5 million subscribers. But, according to Frank Pearce, Blizzard's Executive Vice President of Product Development, that's going to change.

When asked if by VG247's Adam Hartley if he thought WoW's subscribers had permanently peaked, Pearce had this to say:
"I mean, you can look at that number and if you look at some of the details around it ... In China, for example, we haven't even launched Wrath of the Lich King yet, and that expansion is already 18-plus months old. They're still playing The Burning Crusade there, because we're waiting for approval for Wrath from the appropriate agencies. And once we get that approval and launch Wrath in China then I think we will see growth."
Pearce also noted that "win-back" of subscribers who had left the game after previous expansions is particularly high for WoW, and that subscriber counts should grow when Cataclysm is released.
"Hopefully we will get some people back from Cataclysm as well. I don't think 11.5 million is a peak, necessarily, but there are certain things that we need to do and need to do well in order to see it go further."
Like refining the 1-60 game, an area many players have never gotten past, no doubt. You can read the full interview with Frank Pearce at VG247.

[via Massively]

Filed under: Blizzard

NetEase loses WoW director, Li Riqiang



World of Warcraft
in China continues to walk a rocky path. NetEase, the company currently licensed to operate WoW's The Burning Crusade expansion in China, lost Li Riqiang, a senior director for the WoW business unit on the 24th of February, 2010. There is no word on why he left, and the company is keeping mum on details about the departure and his replacement.

This comes on the heels of a 62% jump in revenue in the fourth quarter of 2009 generated since NetEase was able to light up the TBC servers after resolving their disputes with the government, which had prevented them from launching the service in China until September 2009. That revenue increase was accompanied by lower profit margins, however, as NetEase must pay hefty licensing fees to Activision Blizzard.

The fact that there are still Chinese players who are willing to play an obsolete and no longer maintained version of the game is a little strange to me-- many Chinese players simply started over on Taiwanese servers. Judging by the amount of red tape that's being wrapped around anything to do with Blizzard, I suspect we'll see Cataclysm released before Chinese players can play Wrath of the Lich King without connecting to a server in Taiwan.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, News items, The Burning Crusade

Blizzard and The9 fined $212,000 for copyright infringement in China

From Worlds in Motion we've learned that Blizzard has suffered yet another setback in China.

As reported by JLM Pacific Epoch, the Beijing Municipal Higher People's Court has found that The9, Blizzard's onetime partner in China violated the copyrights of five Chinese fonts owned by Founder Technology Group. The9, Blizzard, and two other parties have been ordered to pay a fine of RMB 1.45 million, or approximately US$ 212,000. The9 has appealed the order to the People's Supreme Court. (Lovely place by the way. Just watch the steps.)

To recap, Blizzard had licensed World of Warcraft to The9 to distribute the game in China. Apparently, in localizing the game for China, The9 used five fonts for the Chinese text in game. However, these fonts are owned by Founder Technology Group, who sued The9 and Blizzard for copyright infringement in 2007, requesting damages of RMB 100M, or about US$ 13M. In September 2007, when The Burning Crusade was released in China, all of the Founder Technology Group fonts were replaced with fonts that Blizzard had permission to use "as a gesture of goodwill to the gaming community" "without any admission of liability."

Given the rocky relationship between The9 and Blizzard, it is likely that this fine will be yet another bone of contention between the companies and that responsibility for this fine may end up being decided in yet another court battle. Stay tuned!

Filed under: News items, The Lawbringer

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