BEIJING Nov 4 China's Culture Ministry has
accused the publishing watchdog of abusing its authority by
shutting access to the popular online game, World of Warcraft,
stoking bureaucratic rivalry over control of the Internet.
The ministry scolded the General Administration of Press
and Publication (GAPP), which had told Chinese online game firm
NetEase.com (NTES.O) not to operate the latest version of
Activision Blizzard's (ATVI.O) World of Warcraft, the
Chinese-language Economic Information Daily said on Wednesday.
The rare public turf war between the two agencies has
exposed the tricky regulatory undergrowth that Internet
companies must navigate in China.
China's Communist Party leadership has demanded tighter
control over the Internet and online gaming, worried about
images and ideas it sees as pornographic, unhealthy or
Government agencies with a stake in the sector have in turn
sought to demonstrate their eagerness to enforce those demands,
and also competed to stake out control of the potentially
lucrative and prestigious sector.
"The Ministry of Culture believes the notice from the
General Administration of Press and Publication does not
conform to the relevant regulations, and clearly oversteps its
authority," said Li Xiong, a Ministry of Culture official in
charge of market affairs, according to the paper.
Li's unyielding comments suggested that the bureaucratic
warfare over Warcraft, a role-playing game in which subscribers
complete quests, slay monsters and fight among themsleves, may
not end immediately.
NetEase said on Monday that the GAPP halted and returned
its application to operate the latest version of World of
Warcraft game due to "gross violations" of regulations.
The original version of the game is not affected.
GAPP posted a statement on its Web site demanding that
NetEase suspend charging users to play the game, and disallow
new account registrations, NetEase said.
The move put the recently relaunched popular title's future
into question in China, and sent down NetEase and Activision
In October, GAPP banned many forms of foreign investment
into the country's online games industry, expected to grow
30-50 percent this year to up to $4 billion. [ID:nSHA252963]
But the bureaucratic friction can produce departures from
China's usually secretive and unyielding style of government.
In late June, the Ministry of Industry and Information
Technology, which has also sought to assert control of Internet
content, abruptly discarded a plan to force manufacturers to
bundle Internet filtering software with personal computers sold
in the country. [ID:nSP514751]
The "Green Dam" plan, which officials said was to stamp out
Internet pornography, was to start from July 1, but it was
assailed by critics of censorship, industry groups and
Washington officials as politically intrusive, technically
ineffective and commercially unfair. [ID:nSP491468]
(Editing by Ken Wills) ((email@example.com;
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