Diablo Immortal’s Chinese launch delayed at the last moment

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Diablo ImmortalBlizzard’s controversial mobile game entry in its acclaimed action-RPG series, has seen its release in China delayed just days before launch.

The launch had been scheduled for June 23, but a June 19 post from the game’s co-developer and local publisher NetEase said it needed to make further “optimizations”, including support for more devices. and network and performance improvements. This is despite the game enjoying a technically smooth rollout in Western territories, Japan, and South Korea in early June.

Another update from Blizzard said the launch had been pushed back to July 7. “We believe our players will benefit from an optimization that would make downloading and playing the game much smoother,” he said, detailing a few changes that would be made. These include changes to the order in which mobile devices download data while you install and play, and optimizations to support the “very diverse” install base of Android phones in China. Players in the region will receive a compensatory set of gear and crafting materials.

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However, questions inevitably arise about other potential reasons for the delay. industry analyst Daniel Ahmad pointed out that the move takes place a few days after Diablo ImmortalWeibo’s account on China’s major social media platform has been banned from posting new posts. Weibo said the ban was for “violation of related laws and regulations.”

It’s reasonable to wonder if gaming is heading into regulatory hot waters in China. Diablo Immortal has come under heavy criticism for its conception of monetization, which some call exploitative. Reportedly, it would cost between $50,000 and $110,000 to fully max out a character through microtransactions. Quin69 Streamer spent $15,000 to acquire a single legendary gem with a 5-star rating (there are six legendary gem slots per character), before destroying it in protest. The game was not launched in the Netherlands or Belgium, where strict laws classify loot boxes in online games as gambling.

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China is currently a tough regulatory environment for video games, where the government is actively campaigning against the gaming industry. A freeze on the granting of new licenses and restrictions on the time minors can spend on games have put many game companies out of business. Chinese loot box laws aren’t quite as strict as Dutch and Belgian laws, however – they simply require that drop rates be disclosed and cap the number of daily purchases.

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Diablo Immortal was, to a large extent, designed with China in mind. This huge market is dominated by free-to-play mobile games, and Blizzard has hired Chinese company NetEase as a co-developer to help adapt Diablo’s core gameplay to these devices and business model. It would be both ironic and a serious blow to the game’s fortunes if the game were denied release there.

Nevertheless, the signs are that Diablo Immortal is already a great success. Data from Appmagic (via Pocket Gamer) suggests that it made $24 million in revenue in its first two weeks on mobiles, not including its PC version. Blizzard claims it has been downloaded 10 million times, making it the biggest launch in Diablo series history.

The post Diablo Immortal’s Chinese launch delayed at the last moment appeared first on Polygon.

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