Mobile gaming giant Netease has announced that the launch of Diablo Immortal, its high-profile collaboration with Blizzard Entertainment, has been delayed in China. Released across (most of) the rest of the world on June 2, Diablo Immortal was scheduled to launch in China on June 23. But, with just three days’ notice, the launch has been delayed, with Netease not yet offering a new release date, or commenting on the delay beyond some vague mentions of gameplay improvements and “optimization adjustments.”
Netease also hasn’t commented on whether or not this delay has any connection to last week’s ban of the Diablo Immortal account on the phenomenally popular Chinese microblogging site, Weibo. According to Weibo, the ban was issued because the account had been “in violation of related laws and regulations,” which could mean a lot of different things. Whatever the reason, it’s the last thing a game publisher needs on the eve of a major launch.
China is a huge market for mobile gaming, but launching games there can be a slow and difficult process due to the strict regulations and procedures governing game releases. One set of rules that developers often fall foul of are those that forbid occult content, but exactly what is and isn’t considered occult varies from case to case. Still, it seems plausible that Diablo Immortal, a game featuring more than its fair share of necromancy and demon hunting, has hit upon one or two “occult” stumbling blocks.