Whether or not you believe Blizzard has landed itself in hot water with fans for its controversial Diablo Immortal monetization, they’re still making a pretty penny regardless. Diablo Immortal has raked in $24m in the first two weeks alone with 8 million downloads. Could Blizzard and NetEase have tripled those earnings with a simple $9.99 price tag? We’ll leave that up for debate.
But whether that meets their expectations or not, they certainly don’t seem to be doing themselves any favors. Or at least, NetEase doesn’t. Because a certain series of events has led to a 10% drop in NetEase stock.
The tumble came a day after Diablo Immortal announced that its Chinese release will be postponed just three days before its planned release date in the region. Blizzard’s Chinese website stated that they first need to make a number of optimization adjustments before the launch. And they even promised a number of gifts to Chinese players including Legendary equipment by way of apology.
However, this came just a few days after the Diablo Immortal Weibo account was suspended. Weibo is one of China’s most popular social media apps that’s comparable to Twitter in its format. And while no official reason or statement has been given for the account’s suspension, it came pretty soon after a post from the Diablo Immortal account depicting Winnie the Pooh had begun circulating.
The reason a seemingly inane picture of Winnie the Pooh might get someone in trouble on a Chinese social media app has a lot to do with the connotations. Namely, that critics of Chinese leader Xi Jinping are quite fond of pointing out a resemblance between him and the beloved cartoon character. Something that the government is particularly sensitive about permitting.
So when an image of the Diablo Immortal account posting a picture of Pooh Bear with a phrase as translated by the Financial Times stating “Why hasn’t the bear stepped down?” began to circulate, it was not hard to connect the dots.
Putting aside the baffling circumstances of the official Diablo Immortal account posting something like this, the other main question is whether this had anything to do with the actual reasons for postponing the app, and whether the downturn in NetEase stock value was a result of nationalistic reactions.
Regardless, Blizzard and NetEase are going to want to turn things around pretty fast, if they want a piece of that juicy Chinese market.
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