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NetEase to buy all new servers for Chinese WoW


Yes, as you may have noticed in the update on our post the other day, it's confirmed: NetEase will be taking over operating the World of Warcraft in China as of June -- their new homebase over there can be found at wow.163.com. And while we originally reported that The9 would be turning over their software, hardware, and staff to run the game, apparently that's not completely true. IDG News Service is reporting that NetEase will be setting up their own network of servers to run the game. That's a big undertaking -- it likely means that things will be bumpy for the first few days of the transition (though Blizzard is clearly confident that NetEase can handle it, having run a few other games in the market before). And it also means that some of the supercomputers we've reported on before that are owned by The9 will go to... well, we're not sure what.

Not that there aren't plenty of things to use them for -- despite their stock dropping on news of the WoW license loss, The9 also runs a number of other games over there, including Guild Wars, Ragnarok Online, and a few more popular Eastern MMOs (not to mention that EA has a nice stake in them). And at the very least, there's got to be a market for supercomputers with other companies and educational institutions, right? It's unlikely that all that hardware will just sit dark.

But more importantly, it'll be interesting to see how NetEase handles the transition -- we've had a few inventory and other issues here on the Western side of the world, but we've never had a major loss of character information (cue all of the Blizzard engineers knocking on wood). We're sure there are countless backups in place, but if something goes majorly wrong in the transition between hosts, it could be devastating for the WoW audience in China.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Hardware

World of Warcraft, and lack of it, at E3

I was lucky enough to go to E3 this year with the Joystiq crew last week, and while I had planned to cover some stories about WoW for you guys, the biggest story I came back with was: that there was no story. I didn't hear or see World of Warcraft mentioned once. When Blizzard said they were not showing at E3, they meant it -- I didn't even hear a competitor mention their name.

There was one mention of Blizzard at the Activision press conference on Tuesday. Mike Griffith name-dropped Blizzard once just to say the merger had happened, but there was nothing at all about World of Warcraft or any of Blizzard's properties. And I had planned to try out the Novint Falcon controller with WoW. I did try it out, and it is an interesting, if expensive, PC game controller, but Novint told me they didn't have it working in a form they wanted to show off with World of Warcraft yet.

Kind of strange that the biggest game in the world didn't get a single mention at the biggest game show in the world, but then again, it's not that weird when you consider that E3 has scaled way down by magnitudes from past years. Companies aren't as interested in the event when there are many, many other ways to market and show off their games to journalists, and considering that Blizzard has invested heavily in not one but two giant events of their own this year, it's no wonder they don't want to spend any money at E3. Shame that we couldn't bring you more WoW coverage from LA last week, but we'll be back there in October, and there'll be plenty of news to report then.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Events, WoW Social Conventions, Blizzard, BlizzCon, Worldwide Invitational

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