World of Warcraft China: Interesting Facts - Part 1

Posted by Daeity On Monday, August 16, 2010

As of right now, Chinese players have only been able to play The Burning Crusade since it was first launched in China on September 6, 2007 (8 months after the NA/EU release.)

There's been a lot of drama between government regulators, Blizzard, The9, and NetEase but it appears that WOTLK will finally see a release in China sometime within the next few months. (By comparison, NA/EU release date was Nov 13/08).

Here's a summary of the most recent WoW China activity after The9 lost their license to operate World of Warcraft.

Apr 2009 - The9 loses license to operate WoW
May 2009 - The9 sues Blizzard, also creates "World of Fight"
Jun 2009 - Servers offline (The9 -> NetEase)
Jul 2009 - Servers offline (The9 -> NetEase)
Aug 2009 - Servers offline (The9 -> NetEase)
Sep 2009 - Servers offline (The9 -> NetEase)
Oct 2009 - Servers back online
Nov 2009 - NetEase ordered to stop charging players and new registrations (deemed illegal).
Dec 2009 - Servers online
Jan 2010 - Servers online
Feb 7 2010 - NetEase attempts to re-approve TBC
Feb 8 2010 - NetEase ordered to halt new accounts again
Feb 12 2010 - Gave "approval to release" TBC in China (even though it was already out)
Mar 2010 - Subscriptions collected again & new players allowed
Apr 2010 - Business as usual
May 2010 - Business as usual
Jun 2010 - Business as usual
Jul 2010 - Business as usual
Aug 2010 - Announced that WOTLK would finally launch
For 7 months, they were not allowed to accept new players and for 4 months there was no revenue. There was practically no growth for a year. But, let's hope things stabilize for NetEase. (More information if you're interested in this.)

On an interesting note, WOTLK has been available on Taiwan realms (TWOW) for some time and many guilds and players have moved from their CWOW to TWOW servers due to their closer proximity and acceptable latency. Not just because of the WOTLK expansion pack, but also because of their ongoing issues on the CWOW servers (constant up-and-down, servers offline, new accounts being blocked, etc.)

There are also many Chinese players who have tried to make the move to US Realms for some of the same reasons (realm issues, wanting to get into new exp. packs), but they have met with new challenges.. other than bandwidth latency.

There is a very common misconception that if you're Chinese you're automatically a "Chinese Gold Farmer". Fact is, the number of "gold farmers" (under it's classic definition) is actually very low (1-2% of total Active Subscribers) and are actually located in your own realm's geography. But that doesn't stop Blizzard from banning China-based IP addresses without actually investigating the user.

Here's what Blizzard had to say on the matter:

"Chinese IP's are not blocked on the US or Taiwan realms, but sometimes accounts using IPs are banned due to large amounts of exploiters or gold sellers using the network. It's possible for some personal accounts to get blocked as well (highly unlikely) is where this probably stems from."

I think investigations should be based on a user-by-user basis, rather than just banning entire IP ranges because of some bad apples. Because of the amount of money involved too, most of these gold farming businesses in China buy dedicated US VPN servers for maximum bandwidth.

Consider this: If NA/EU realms were constantly crashing, down for maintenance for months at a time, new expansion packs were a year late (but released in China a year early), you never knew if the expansion pack would ever be approved by NA/EU government regulators or when they were going to shutdown the realms "for good this time", and there were ways to correct any latency issues, wouldn't you try to setup a CWOW account just so that you could play the game? And after all is said and done, wouldn't you just want to get your WoW fix and be free from labeling or harassment?

As it stands now, though, you may even want to signup on the CWOW servers right now once I explain some of the other interesting facts about CWOW (however you have to wait for the next parts of this article.) =]

* Update (08/20/10):
Here are direct links to the other parts of the article.

Part 2 - Average game time played by CWOW players.
Part 3 - Subscription model, and total number of CWOW players vs worldwide.
Part 4 - Gold has real value and easy to buy/sell.
Part 5 - Unique in-game services on China realms.
Part 6 - Overview of gameplay, culture, government regulations and censorship.
Part 7 - Census information, ratio of Alliance vs Horde, and PVP is uncommon.