The Chinese government has once again maintained its ban on hugely popular MMORPG World of Warcraft’s popular expansion, “Wrath of the Lich King”, despite strenuous efforts on the part of the publisher to comply with its demands.
Wrath of the Lich King apparently possesses a number of features which the Chinese government finds objectionable, or which do not meet regulatory standards.
In their latest application, the popular Death Knight hero class, skeleton-like characters and a city raid were all removed to satisfy Chinese censors.
Strangely, Chinese regulators find skeletons particularly objectionable, as an earlier application forced the removal of all skeletons from the game. Skeleton enemies in WoW’s Chinese version come fully fleshed and a tombstone is used for defeated enemies, rather than a skeleton corpse as in the rest of the world.
World of Warcraft is extremely popular in mainland China despite all this, and was one of the games that prompted the Chinese government to enforce time limits on play. The current system imposes an in game penalty to characters that are online for more than three hours.
When it is finally released in China, Wrath of the Lich King looks set to be popular despite the changes, though when Chinese gamers will actually be able to get their hands on the game is anyone’s guess.
Possibly this is a case of the distributors failing to buy enough guanxi (politely called “connections” in the study of China, though strangely in any developed country it is known simply as “nepotism and corruption”), although of course suppressing liberal cultural development in China has long been a Party proclivity.