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Posts with tag netease

Chinese WoW wraps up closed beta, to start charging soon


It looks like the long saga of World of Warcraft's transfer of operatorship in China is almost finally over -- NetEase has announced that the closed beta period is done with, and that they're just about ready to open up normal registration and bring the game back to for-pay status. They're still pending government approval there, so they're not quite online and running yet, but they have closed off registration to new players, and will only bring it back online when they're ready to start charging yet again. Of course, their pay scheme there is different from here in the US and EU -- they often charge per hour to play rather than a constant monthly subscription. But however they decide to charge, NetEase seems sure that by the end of the month, things will finally be back to normal in China's version of Azeroth.

Meanwhile, the former operator of the game, The9, has announced that they are extending by a month the option for former players to get refunds for their prepaid game cards. That option was originally planned to end on September 7th, but players of the game who have unused cards will have another 30 days to redeem them back for cash. All of this back-and-forth originally started back in April of this year, but it seems like, five months later, the game might finally be getting back to normal.

Filed under: Patches, Realm Status, Blizzard, Hardware

WoW currently free to play in China, fate still being decided by government

The trials and tribulations continue for Chinese MMO players, WoW, and its new Chinese provider NetEase. IncGamers is reporting that the beta of the game is continuing - effectively making the game free to play for those lucky enough to be taking part - while the Chinese government decides if enough changes have been made, such as the removal of corpses, gore and other unpleasant parts of the MMO experience, for the game to get a Chinese relaunch.

Since handing over the baton from from The9, things have not gone very well. After an extended hiatus which saw the game's servers offline while the data was transferred over, the game is still awaiting the final go-ahead from GAPP (the General Administration of Press and Publication). The beta was originally supposed to last around a week but because of the delay has been going on for nearly a month. However IncGamers is also reporting that according to NetEase, all the internal testing has been completed and once the GAPP are done, the game should launch pretty quickly.

Filed under: Odds and ends, Blizzard, News items

China's Ministry of Culture approves WoW content

Blizzard has been having all kinds of issues trying to bring World of Warcraft back online in China, but here's one piece of good news for them: China's Ministry of Culture has gone through the game and approved all of the content in it. They apparently were concerned about some violent content (we know they've already made changes in the past to the Undead models), but that's now been cleared, and the only thing left is final approval by the General Administration of Press and Publication. There's no date on when that might happen, but it seems that will be soon (not soon(tm), just soon).

Blizzard should be extremely happy to see these content checks cleared, as it means that they're not only that much closer to bringing the servers back online, but that they can also finally bring out Wrath of the Lich King there. The whole issue with Netease and The9 backed things up, and then these content checks were a problem, but hopefully most of the obstacles have been cleared by now, and Chinese players can soon start making their way back into the game and up to the snowy shores of Northrend.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Expansions, Raiding, Wrath of the Lich King

The Queue: Wherein Alex renames himself Nostradamus


Welcome back to The Queue, WoW.com's daily Q&A column where the WoW Insider team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Alex Ziebart will be your host today.

After a year of writing this thing, I've run out of quirky ways to introduce this thing that don't reek of veiled desperation. So screw the veil. Along with your question in today's edition of The Queue, I want you to write an introduction for the next edition of this column that I write, which will be the day after tomorrow. I will pick the best of the bunch to use. Keep it clean!

crusherkid asked...


"I've read reports that because of the servers going down in China that World of Warcraft has dropped down to only 5 million subscribers. Is that correct?"

Read more →

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Humor, The Queue

Battle.net registration now online in China

World of Warcraft has, as you have probably heard, been offline in China for a while now. Even though The9 originally said they'd transfer over their servers to NetEase, they later decided to fight it out, leaving WoW offline for a matter of weeks. And it isn't quite up yet, but they're getting there -- this (very roughly) translated article says that Battle.net servers are now up and running, so Chinese players can now at least sign in to Battle.net, if not into the game itself. We already went through the same thing here in the US and the EU, so Azeroth should be back online in China any day now.

Meanwhile, the poor folks at The9 have not been doing so well -- they were on top of the world last year, but when World of Warcraft up and flew the griffon out of there, they lost the majority of their business. A new AP article has them revising their expected earnings down by an "estimated 55 to 75 percent." Ouch.

Let that be a lesson, NetEase. Keep your instances running and your downtime low, because if Blizzard pulls the plug on a game you're running, they'll be taking a ton of money with them.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Economy, Hardware

With the game offline in China, others aim to step in

As you may or may not have heard, the World of Warcraft is currently offline in China, thanks to a fight between the game's former licensee, The9, and its current licensee, Netease. Yes, if you think a day or so of downtime is bad here in the US and the EU, that's nothing compared to this: the game has been down since June 7th, and neither Blizzard nor Netease have given an estimate of when the game might be back online. An analyst from China does say that they expect most players to return to the servers once they return, but in the meantime, many players have spread over into Taiwan's WoW server. We don't believe that Blizzard allowed transfers during this time, so they've likely started and leveling brand new characters over there.

And don't think that other games haven't noticed this unique window of opportunity: there are currently millions of MMO players looking for something to do in China, and there are at least three big other games looking to give them something to do. Aion, which is currently in beta here in the US but is apparently up and running in Asia already, is making as much of a play as they can, and there are two local Chinese games, Zhuxian Online and Chibi Online, both developed by a company called Perfect World, that are also aiming to steal some of China's WoW players.

Very interesting situation over there -- imagine how much the MMO world would be thrown off here if WoW just completely disappeared for multiple weeks, if not longer. Blizzard is likely scrambling to get things moving over there as fast as possible.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Realm Status, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Expansions

WoW China transition begins this month, will be down for weeks

JLM Pacific Epoch, the source that revealed this whole WoW China debacle to us in the first place, has continued their ongoing coverage of the World of Warcraft situation in China. As reported previously, The9 is no longer in charge of WoW China. The whole thing has been handed over to NetEase, who is already running some of Blizzard's other overseas properties. The9's operations of World of Warcraft will cease on June 7th, and NetEase will bring operations back up late that same month. Yes, that's a few weeks without WoW in China whatsoever. Luckily, it's intended that character information will carry over from one provider to the next.

No matter how much or how little you play the game, you have to admit that WoW being taken away for weeks sucks pretty hard. Of course, the fact that this might make it easier for them to get Wrath of the Lich King may ease the hurt a little. We here in North America (or even the EU or Oceania) may complain about downtime and lag and server instability, but we should consider ourselves lucky that gaming is a relatively painless experience in comparison to what our Chinese playmates need to put up with. Here's hoping that WoW in China remains strong after all of this, and not utterly barren due to people fleeing to Taiwan's realms.

[via Massively]

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard

The9 sues Blizzard

In an interesting twist to the dramatic saga of World of Warcraft in China, The9, the former distributor of the game until they lost the license last April, is suing Blizzard in two cases involving property loss compensation and commercial defamation. A company representative confirmed the news to sources at the same time stating that The9 will no longer comment on the matter. The Shanghai Pudong District People's Court will hear the assets damage case and the Shanghai No.1 Intermediate People's Court will hear the commercial defamation case on June 18 and July 8, respectively, according to 178.com.

This news comes after the announcement that The9 was deep in the development of a game conspicuously similar to World of Warcraft called World of Fight. Numerous delays in the release of Wrath of the Lich King in China fueled rumors leading up the non-renewal of The9's contract. The situation became so dire that a large portion of mainland players migrated (re-rolled) en masse to WoW servers in Taiwan, where Wrath was available. In fact, some had made incredible progress in such a short time, such as killing Mimiron in hard mode despite having re-rolled. Blizzard had planned to award the contract to The9 competitor NetEase once their contract with The9 expires in June.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items

Chinese guild heads to Taiwan, kills Mimiron on hard mode


WoW has been in a state of flux in China lately, with the9 failing to gain approval from the government to publish Wrath of the Lich King, which in turn may or may not have lead to Blizzard licensing the operation of WoW in China to Netease instead.

In the midst of all this, it has been the players stuck in the middle, their play availability up in the air, stuck killing Kil'jaedan over and over and over as they wait for Northrend with bated breath. That said, there's still been a few players who have taken matters into their own hands.

Read more →

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, News items, Instances, Expansions, Raiding, Bosses, Wrath of the Lich King, Achievements

Activision conference call: WoW still at 11.5 million subscribers

The OC Register has a great breakdown of what Activision said on their earnings conference call today. Perhaps the biggest WoW-related stat to come out of the call is that the number of subscribers to the game has apparently leveled off: they're holding steady at 11.5 million. Which is nothing to cough at, but it's what we were told four months ago, and if, as Ghostcrawler claimed, the numbers are still going up, then they're going up very, very slowly. Morhaime says that numbers are growing everywhere, but that China will be a main focus of growth this year as Wrath of the Lich King releases there soon.

In non-WoW Blizzard news, the Starcraft 2 beta will start this summer and will be the "final" phase of development for that game. The new Battle.net interface will be tested then as well, so keep an eye out for that. And Blizzard expects big things there in China also -- NetEase, the company that will now be handling Wrath's launch, is already set up to run both Diablo III and Starcraft 2 out there, so it'll all be under one umbrella.

In short, there's no really bad news from Blizzard, but no really great news either -- the best news to come out of the call is that even in the slow economy lately, Blizzard is holding steady. Not a bad thing at all, but we probably won't see any spikes in player interest in Blizzard or WoW until they announce what's next on the content plate, whether that be at BlizzCon or before.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, Expansions

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

Rumor: The9 loses WoW license in China to Netease


The9 has been the target of persistent rumors over the last few months that they're on the verge of losing their license from Blizzard to operate World of Warcraft in China. First, we heard about their financial troubles, and then came rumors that Blizzard was going to ditch them. And now we've got WorldofWar.net reporting a rumor that Netease will be the company to take over the reins there. It makes sense -- Netease has been growing a lot during their history, and they successfully operate Fantasy Westward Journey, an MMO with a US value of $761 million, with 400,000 average concurrent users. They're already supposed to take over Blizzard's Warcraft III and Starcraft II in China, so Blizzard will actually be consolidating their properties.

The rumor supposedly comes from a leaked internal memo to The9 employees, which says that an unnamed company (supposedly Netease) is trying to pick up the rights and hardware for the game for a cool $22 million. The9 reportedly paid $73 million for the same capability, so they're losing twice on the deal -- both the license and the money they spent on it.

Not good news for The9 if it all turns out to be true, but maybe this means Chinese players will get their expansions a little sooner. Of course, a lot goes into releasing new content overseas (translation is definitely not a small part of it), but having a more capable operator probably won't hurt.

Update: Confirmed. Thanks for playing, The9. Their stock is down big time since the announcement, and Netease's is up.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Expansions, Wrath of the Lich King

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