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China’s oversight agency has granted permission for Blizzard Entertainment’s Chinese partner, NetEase.com, to launch an important expansion pack for World of Warcraft.
The General Adminstration of Press and Publication in China will allow NetEase.com to launch World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade, an expansion pack which launched in 2007 in the U.S.
The approval is a victory for Blizzard Entertainment, a division of Activision Blizzard, which has been trying to comply with Chinese regulators — who censor content in online games — so that it can continue to operate in what has become the biggest market for World of Warcraft. Blizzard said this week it has 11.5 million subscribers for the game, making in the No. 1 massively multiplayer online in terms of subscription revenue.
But four million or so of those users are in China, where Blizzard has had regulatory uncertainties since last summer. The game was actually shut down from June to September as Blizzard switched from The9 to NetEase.com, triggering a review by GAPP. (China does not allow U.S. companies to publish online games directly in the Chinese market).
Blizzard has also submitted its World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King expansion pack to Chinese authorities, but that hasn’t been reviewed yet. Still, the launch of The Burning Crusade in China should help invigorate that market for Blizzard.