Just just a few days earlier than it was attributable to launch, Diablo Immortal has been delayed in China. According to a Reuters report, phrase of the delay got here shortly after the official Diablo Immortal account on Chinese social community Weibo was suspended.
A purpose for the account suspension wasn’t offered, however a Financial Times report factors the finger at a publish that made essential feedback about “the bear,” which was apparently interpreted as a reference to Winnie the Pooh. Pooh Bear has for years been used to criticize or mock Chinese president Xi Jinping due to purported bodily similarities between them, and it is fairly clearly a sore level for Xi: China banned the 2018 launch of the Disney movie Christopher Robin, and a 12 months later revoked the enterprise license of the Chinese writer of Devotion, a horror game that additionally contained a picture of Pooh. The Weibo account of developer Red Candles was additionally shut down in that case, and the game was finally faraway from Steam.
There’s not a direct connection cited between the Weibo account suspension and the game delay, however it will be an awfully large coincidence if the 2 occasions have been fully unconnected. NetEase, which co-developed Diablo Immortal with Activision Blizzard, made no reference to the account on the Chinese Diablo Immortal web site (Google translated), saying solely that it needed to make “optimization adjustments” forward of launch, together with help for “a wider range of models and devices,” and “experience, network, and performance optimizations.”
Another potential level of rivalry is Diablo Immortal’s free-to-play monetization, which has been very profitable out of the gate but in addition the main target of robust criticism over its aggressive method to in-game merchandise gross sales. Free-to-play video games are much more frequent and widespread in China than they’re within the West, however the previous couple of years has seen the Chinese authorities crack down on gaming by imposing cut-off dates and streaming restrictions for minors, and pausing approvals for brand spanking new game releases for nearly a 12 months. NetEase could also be reluctant to attempt its luck with a game perceived by many as predatory right away, particularly if it is already within the doghouse over the Winnie the Pooh enterprise.
A brand new launch date for Diablo Immortal in China hasn’t been set, however NetEase stated within the delay announcement that it is placing collectively a “thank-you package” with legendary gear and supplies as an apology for the delay. The package deal will probably be obtainable to all gamers as soon as the game goes reside. I’ve reached out to Activision Blizzard for extra info and can update if I obtain a reply.