Back in June when Diablo Immortal launched here in the west, Chinese publisher NetEase surprised everyone by delaying the game’s release in China itself, claiming that the studio “needed additional time for content enhancement in pushing back the game’s availability in China.” As we noted at the time, the news took a massive bite out of NetEase’s stock value and gave rise to plenty of speculation over a Weibo dust-up, anti-gambling petitions to the government, and China’s latest game freeze.
In any case, it turns out the postponement was only for a little over a month. As Bloomberg first reported last night, the NetEase has said it will launch next week on July 25th. Indeed, it also looks as if we’ve finally gotten some confirmation that it was indeed the “controversial social media post” on Weibo that “halted the rollout” in the first place, at least according to Bloomberg’s unnamed sources.
“In reality, the delay was due to a deleted social media post interpreted as criticism of Chinese President Xi Jinping, according to other people familiar with the situation. The official Diablo Immortal account that NetEase operates on the Chinese microblogging site Weibo has been blocked from posting for ‘violating relevant laws and regulations,’ according to a banner notice affixed to the feed.”
Chinese players on Reddit had previously proposed that the Weibo post from NetEase back in June had made a Winnie the Pooh reference to China’s Xi Jinping that blew up and caused NetEase’s marketing to go dark for weeks thanks to the extreme censorship in the country. Of course, the same post floated the rumor that NetEase’s licensing would be disabled for three years, which clearly is not the case as DI is still coming.
In any case, the July 25th date is apparently “still subject to last-minute changes.” We’ll know Monday.