Diablo Immortal Delayed Indefinitely in China

Diablo Immortal fans in China were waiting eagerly for the game to be released this week. June 23rd to be exact. It appears that they will have to wait a bit longer, according to Engadget.

NetEase, which co-developed the game with Blizzard, has pushed back the release date indefinitely. It wrote in a blog post that “the development team is making a number of optimization adjustments.”

While that may seem logical and even probable, the truth is much deeper. NetEase got itself into some hot water with China after it posted on its Weibo social media service a reference to Winnie the Pooh. The 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.

Diablo Immortal may be out for some time.

At present, there is no release date for ‘Diablo Immortal’ in China. However, NetEase still expects to ship the game in the near future. The company promises players an “exclusive thank-you package containing legendary equipment” for the delay.

It’s not the first time a game developer has run into issues with Chinese regulators over a Winnie the Pooh reference. Publisher Indievent lost its license 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 started selling a DRM-free version of Devotion on its own storefront.

Knowing how long China holds onto a grunge, this game may never see the light of day in China. Funny how a picture of a bear makes them so angry.

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