Warcraft Row: An Industry Game Changer

Caixin looks at Netease’s struggle to get the game World of Warcraft back online in China and the bureaucratic turf wars that the gaming industry must navigate:

NetEase is a veteran of Chinese online gaming, with seven years of industry experience. So it was stunned when a seemingly straight development path suddenly descended into a dark maze after the company sought government permission to operate China’s version of World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade, an online role-playing game enjoyed by millions of Chinese.

NetEase eventually succeeded. But along the way, the company lost a lot of money and had to play games with a pair of competing bureaucracies that each sought an upper hand in regulating the online gaming business.

Now more than ever, NetEase understands how necessary it is to play the government’s license game and the regulatory contest between the Ministry of Culture and the General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP). The company also learned that good government relation is the key to winning in the online gaming sector.

And NetEase is not out of the woods. World of Warcraft is back online after a long blackout, but the dispute between the culture ministry and GAPP over gaming regulation has yet to be settled.