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Blizzard gives China hell — Diablo III continues trend of Western games heading East

Above: Diablo III has already debuted and gone through a major revision in the West, now it will have a go at China.

Image Credit: Blizzard

Blizzard’s demon-clicking role-playing game is making a journey to the East.

Diablo III is coming to mainland China. Blizzard and Chinese distributor NetEase announced that they are once again working together to bring this title to gamers in the massive Asian nation. NetEase has previously worked with Blizzard to bring StarCraft II, World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, and Heroes of the Storm to China, and now the lucrative market will have a go at slaying monsters in Diablo III. NetEase isn’t providing pricing or a specific release date at this time, but it promises to dole out further information in the near future. PC gamers in China generated $8.7 billion in spending in 2013, and analysts expect that number to grow significantly this year.

Diablo III has players returning to the world of Sanctuary to take on demons, archangels, and devils. It continues the gameplay that has had players hacking through dungeons to gather loot and upgrade their characters since the original.

“We’re excited to be able to welcome the many passionate gamers in mainland China to Sanctuary,” Blizzard chief executive officer Mike Morhaime said in a statement. “We appreciate all the support Chinese gamers have shown us over the years and hope they have a great time playing Diablo III.”

The Chinese gaming market grew to $13 billion last year, and while smartphones are gaining in popularity, most people in that country prefer PC games. Blizzard’s World of Warcraft and Hearthstone are both very popular. Free-to-play games like the competitive online arena battlers League of Legends and Dota 2 also have large Chinese audiences. We’ve reached out to Blizzard and NetEase to see if it will consider a free-to-play model for Diablo III in China, and we’ll update this post with any new information.

“We’re very excited that with our effort, all five of Blizzard’s game series will be delivered to Chinese players,” NetEase chief executive officer William Ding said. “We’ll continue to work closely with Blizzard to prepare for a smooth Diablo III launch in China so that local gamers can start playing this epic adventure as soon as possible.”

Diablo III debuted on PC in 2012. The game sold well, but gamers complained about the in-game auction house that enabled players to buy and sell loot. Many claimed this distracted from actually playing and enjoying the dungeon-crawling gameplay. Blizzard eventually came to the same conclusion. In March, the developer removed the auction houses from the game and re-balanced the distribution of loot to create a more rewarding play experience.

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