Online Game World of Warcraft to Open Free in China

Online gamers in China will be able to play the new 'World of Warcraft' for free until it gets an official approval for commercial operation, the game's developer has said.


Online gamers in China will be able to play the new 'World of Warcraft' for free until it gets an official approval for commercial operation, the game's developer has said.

Shanghai Netease, the game's operator in China, has released an announcement on its website, saying it has finished all facility tests as required by the authorities. It will prolong its open testing program for free to players in China while waiting for the final approval from the government.

"We had been notified by Shanghai Netease and discussed with them before the announcement. It's a thoughtful decision," said Yu, a public relations officer with Blizzard Entertainment Inc, the developer of the game.

Earlier in April, the game's operating right in China was transferred to Shanghai Netease from another online game operator The9. The two companies concluded their agreement in early June and the game resumed its services July 30 with an open testing program.

As the government requires a reapplication of approval for a game when there is a change in the ownership of operation rights, Shanghai Netease is expecting the final nod to re-launch its commercial operation which charges players about 0.5 yuan per hour through prepaid cards.

Many players in China have complained that the censorship on the game was too strict and it took too long for the game to reopen.

Shanghai Netease was not immediately available for questions. Yu said she didn't know either when the company would get the approval.

The game was reported to boast about four million active players in China, accounting for 30 percent of the total in the world.

China has a $2.70 billion online gaming industry with about 49.36 million online gamers last year.


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