international_ NetEase is planning to launch Diablo Immortal mobile game in China on July 25th – a month after being postponed.
Diablo Immortal is the latest installment in Blizzard’s iconic series, and is one of the few blockbusters released in China this year. After a month of delay for many reasons, recently NetEase and Blizzard said they would restart the release of this product, expected on July 25, 2022 in the market of billions of people. Immediately upon the news, NetEase shares jumped more than 5% in New York trading.
Originally, Diablo Immortal was slated to hit stores in mainland China on June 23, but the game company in Hangzhou announced a surprise delay just a few days before launch, citing “need content improvement”.
The delay was in fact due to a deleted social media post that was interpreted as criticizing the Chinese President, according to 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 statement. A NetEase representative declined to comment on this.
Diablo Immortal is one of Blizzard’s most popular franchises, racking up 10 million downloads in the first week after its international launch outside of China on June 2, but players have criticized the elements. The “P2W” factor and in-app purchases resulted in the game’s rating being only 0.4 out of 10 on rating site Metacritic.
On the same day NetEase halted the launch of Immortal in China, Blizzard also pushed back the game’s release in other Asia-Pacific markets such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Taiwan, to July 8 from 23 /06.
New video games are coming under increasing scrutiny in China, where game makers need government approval. The licensing process has resumed after a months-long hiatus, but neither Tencent nor NetEase have been approved so far.