'Diablo Immortal' delayed indefinitely in China just before its planned release date
Publisher NetEase may have run afoul of censors after a viral Weibo post that seemingly referenced President Xi Jinping.
was supposed to debut in China on June 23rd, but those who have been waiting for the game in the country will need to wait longer. NetEase, which co-developed the game with Blizzard, has pushed back the release date indefinitely. It that "the development team is making a number of optimization adjustments."
However, there are other factors at play. NetEase found itself in the bad graces of China's censors over a post on its Weibo social media service that seemingly referenced Winnie the Pooh, according to the . The cartoon character is used to mock Chinese President Xi Jinping.
In the wake of a screenshot of the post (which read "why hasn't the bear stepped down?") gaining traction, the official Diablo Immortal Weibo account was banned from posting anything. Discussions related to the post were also wiped from the service.
Currently, Diablo Immortal does not have a release date in China, though NetEase still expects to ship the game in the country. It promised players an "exclusive thank-you package containing legendary equipment" as a makegood for the delay.
The PC and mobile title debuted in other territories this month. According to reports, it raked in in two weeks as a result of its aggressive approach to monetization. China is the biggest gaming market on the planet and not being able to release Diablo Immortal there would likely have a severe impact on the game's expected revenues. NetEase declined to comment to the Financial Times. Engadget has contacted Blizzard for comment.
It's not the first time a game developer has run into issues with Chinese regulators over a Winnie the Pooh reference. Publisher Indievent to sell Devotion in China, leading it to cut ties with developer Red Candle Games, which included a blatant dig at Xi in the game itself. The studio, which is based in Taiwan, later a DRM-free version of Devotion on its own storefront.