A post on social media thought to be mocking Chinese leader Xi Jinping was behind the delay of the last minute in the release of Diablo Immortal within China as according to a report.
This is in contrast to the official reason given by Chinese publisher and developer NetEase during June who stated that it was preventing the game’s release due to “content enhancement”.
NetEase did not respond when asked by Eurogamer.
In a story published late last night, Bloomberg sources said that delay occurred caused by “a deleted social media post interpreted as criticism of Chinese President Xi Jinping”, that led to that account of the game’s Weibo account being shut down for “violating relevant laws and regulations”.
In a subsequent report, Massively linked this to a photo of an Winnie the Pooh reference allegedly published on games’ Weibo account prior to it being deleted.
Chinese editors regularly take down all references in reference to Winnie the Pooh and Winnie the Pooh’s likeness is frequently used in jokes and memes in reference to the country’s president.
Internet speculation has previously linked the delay in the game to that of the Diablo accounts on social networks being deleted however it’s the first time that a credible source claims to have connected the dots.
“The development team is making a number of optimisation adjustments to the game,” NetEase announced earlier this month. It included “support for a greater variety of devices and models as well as the most high-quality rendering of more models, plenty of experiences, network and performance optimizations, and much more.
“We believe that the game experience in the official online version will become smoother and bring better game content to everyone.”
Although the game launched on time elsewhere the world, the Chinese delay has sent NetEase stock plummeting. The game is scheduled to debut in China next week , on the 25th of July.
So far it appears that Diablo Immortal has been released to the public. Western version of Diablo Immortal appears to be a huge financial successful however, it has also been beset by complaints about its practice of monetisation.