Web watchdogs duel over Warcraft (2)

08:51, November 04, 2009      

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NetEase resumed operations of the World of Warcraft at 9 am Tuesday after temporarily shutting the site for maintenance, according to Bloomberg.

Still, doubts surround GAPP's current stranglehold on NetEase operations, as the game's content had already been approved while being run by the former Shanghai-based hoster, The9, from 2005 until June 2009, before the contract between The9 and Activision Blizzard expired.

NetEase submitted an operating request for the game to the GAPP for review and approval in June. But the procedure proved lengthy, causing the game's servers to be shut off for almost two months, causing a reported economic loss of 5 million yuan ($568,000) per day and pushing back the release of the "Burning Crusades" expansion.

NetEase started hosting World of Warcraft commercially in China on September 19 as the new sole China-based distributor for the game, under a three-year contract with Blizzard.

WOW has about 5 million subscribers in China, according to Caijing magazine.

"The game is like a virtual version of real life where you have loving friends and hateful enemies," a WOW player who asked to remain anonymous, told the Global Times.

The authorization battle has inconvenienced all of the game's loyal fans in China, he said.

Analysts said the spat is a sign of the regulatory turf battle over the massive online game market in China between the GAPP and the MOC.

China is home to millions of online game fans, with media reporting that about 40 million pay the subscription fees, which are usually monthly. The annual profit from such games in China has reached about 20 billion yuan, and it's growing by about 60-70 percent a year, according to reports.

"Technology moves so fast and regulations have a hard time keeping up, which creates a lot of ambiguity," Edward Yu, chief executive officer of Beijing-based research company Analysys International, told Bloomberg.

WOW enthusiasts are still finding a way to get their game on, though, as they can access overseas servers, even if they are slower than a locally based one.

"The two departments are just fighting a war of words, but neither of them has paid enough attention to the development of China's cyber game industry," said Hu Yanping, director of the Data Center of the China Internet.

Zhang Han and An Baijie contributed to this story

Source: Global Times

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