It’s hard to underestimate how China can be a revenue-generating force of nature in the mobile games market. Currently, the highest-grossing mobile game in the world is Honor of Kings, where of the $295 million it brought in last month (!), 95% came from China alone. PUBG Mobile? Second place with 206 million dollars, 67% of which comes from China. You had the idea.
As such, a essential part of Blizzard’s strategy for Diablo Immortal was to get the game out there, if not the main reason the game was made in the first place.
But… something weird is going on. While Diablo Immortal’s Asia-Pacific release date has been pushed back to July 7, the Chinese release date, which was supposed to be June 23, has been scrubbed from social media and the game’s release now appears to have been delayed indefinitely. .
There are a lot of conspiracy theories about what’s going on here. A common rumor spread on reddit this week as it was rumored that Chinese gamers were mass reporting the game for unfair gambling practices which caused the government to take notice. But that’s been overturned by the idea that Chinese gamers do this kind of mass reporting all the time, and as bad as monetizing Diablo in the West might sound, it’s pretty common in China, and shouldn’t be so different from a lot of games that do have government approval.
While has is that the official Diablo Immortal Weibo account has been suspended, with reports that he did something to anger the government, possibly referring to a meme about Chinese President Xi Jinping looking like Winnie the Pooh, even though it’s not intentional. The official word from the Diablo team on the Chinese forums is that the game is simply delayed for “optimization adjustments” and support for a “wider range of models and devices”. [and] experience, network and performance optimizations.”
We are once again in a “can we trust what Blizzard says?” situation, such as going from being released in a few days to not having any The release date raises a lot of questions. The Chinese government has been known to revoke approval for a number of reasons, sometimes for images of skulls or death which are now permitted in the country. Other times for allegedly anti-government themes. Diablo would be more in danger of falling on the first than on the second, but it could be something else.
While yes, it’s true that many pay-to-win gacha games are going wild in China, it doesn’t seem like the Chinese government… likes it, and reducing young people’s addiction to video games is a high priority in the country. Although not, Diablo Immortal may not do anything very different from some existing games, it has drew high-profile headlines, like how it can cost US$110,000 to fully equip a character, or how a streamer spends $15,000 before finally getting a 5-star gem. I wonder if it might have something to do with what’s going on here, but the government isn’t releasing any statements, and Blizzard is sticking to this “we’re just optimizing things” explanation.
I guess Blizzard will find some way to make it work and get the game out in China whether the problem is technical or with the government. Otherwise, they have straddled the country too much. However, if China ever wanted to make a high-profile example of rejecting a game that was heavily focused on extracting money from players through in-game mechanics, it could be. We will have to wait and see.
Follow me on Twitter, Youtube, Facebook and instagram. Subscribe to my free weekly content newsletter, God rolls.
Pick up my sci-fi novels Herokiller Series and The Earthborn Trilogy.