Diablo Immortal's release in China was delayed just days before its scheduled release, and less than a week after the role-playing game's official Weibo account was banned for making derisive comments about the country's rulers.
Blizzard announced the delay of Diablo Immortal in a blog post (opens in a new tab). The publisher did not give any specific reason why the RPG's release was pushed back to July 23, nor did it suggest when it expects the game to launch in China.
It will use the time to make "a number of in-game optimization tweaks: support for a wider 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 with Google Translate).
"We believe that the gaming experience in the official online version will be smoother and provide better gaming content for everyone."
However, Diablo Immortal's delay comes days after new posts were banned from being posted on the game's official account on Weibo, a popular Chinese social media platform. As the Financial Times reports (opens in a new tab), the ban appears to have come after the Diablo Immortal account posted a message saying, "Why didn't the bear quit?"
The mention of a bear led readers to suspect the post was directed at Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is often compared by critics to the fictional children's character Winnie the Pooh. Chinese censors have cracked down on those who use Winnie the Pooh to make critical comments and create memes about the country's president for years, going so far as to ban the release (opens in a new tab) of the 2018 film Christopher Robin .
The FT reports that all discussions and comments related to the comment have been removed from Weibo. The South China Morning Post (Opens in a new tab) reports that Weibo did not provide a specific reason for Diablo Immortal's account ban, although a screenshot circulating on Reddit (Opens in a new tab) appears to show Weibo post referencing Winnie the Pooh. The blog post on the Blizzard site does not mention the post or the social media ban.
(Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)
The release of Diablo Immortal was not easy. Players and critics alike were quick to criticize the game's aggressive monetization systems and expensive microtransactions. Others were disappointed by hidden progression caps that punish free players by arbitrarily lowering their grind rewards.
However, the game is not a commercial failure. Diablo Immortal has already generated €24 million from its in-game microtransactions, with most of that revenue coming from players in the US and South Korea. But Blizzard is likely interested in releasing the game in China to increase that number. More than 15 million players in the country have already pre-registered for the game, a large part of the 35 million players who have pre-registered worldwide.
This is not the first launch interruption that Diablo Immortal has suffered. The game has already been banned in two countries after violating European gambling laws.