Diablo Immortal’s China release was delayed just days before its scheduled release, and less than a week after the RPG’s official Weibo account was banned for making ironic comments about the country’s leadership.
Diablo Immortal’s delay was announced by Blizzard in a blog post (opens in new tab). The publisher didn’t give any specific reason why the RPG’s release was delayed to July 23, nor did it suggest when it expects the game to launch in China.
He will use the time to make “various in-game optimization tweaks: support for a wide range of models and devices, highest quality rendering on more models, lots of experience, network and performance optimizations, and more.” according to the blog post, (translated using Google Translate).
“We believe that the game experience in the official online version will become smoother and bring better game content for everyone.”
However, Diablo Immortal’s delay comes days after the game’s official Weibo account – a popular Chinese social media platform – was banned from publishing new posts. While the Financial Times (opens in new tab) According to reports, the ban appears to have been made after the Diablo Immortal account released a post that read, “Why didn’t the bear come down.”
The mention of a bear led readers to suspect that the post was aimed at China’s President Xi Jinping, who is often compared to the child character Winnie the Pooh by his detractors. Chinese censors have cracked down on those using Winnie the Pooh to make critical comments and memes about the country’s president for years, to the point where ban the release (opens in new tab) from the 2018 film Christopher Robin.
The FT reports that all discussions and comments related to the observation have been removed from Weibo. O South China morning mail (opens in new tab) says that Weibo has not stated a precise reason for the Diablo Immortal account ban, although a screenshot circulating on Reddit (opens in new tab) seems to show the Weibo post referencing Winnie the Pooh. The blog post on the Blizzard website does not mention the post or ban from social media.
The launch of Diablo Immortal has not gone smoothly. Players and critics were quick to criticize the game’s aggressive monetization systems and expensive microtransactions. Others were disappointed by the hidden progression caps that punish free-to-play players by arbitrarily lowering their grinding rewards.
The game is not a commercial failure, however. Diablo Immortal has already generated $24 million through its in-game microtransactions, with most of that revenue coming from North American and South Korean players. But Blizzard will likely be interested in releasing the game in China to expand that number. More than 15 million players in the country have already pre-registered for the game – a large part of the total of 35 million players who pre-registered worldwide.
This isn’t the first release interruption Diablo Immortal has received. The game has already been banned in two countries after it came into conflict with European gambling laws.