World of Warcraft May Be Losing Millions Of Subscribers

And protectionism is to blame.

The General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) intends to tighten approval criteria for online game imports in an effort to protect the development of domestic online game enterprises and avoid the excessive penetration of foreign culture among Chinese youth, reports Sohu quoting GAPP Technology and Digital Publishing Bureau Director Kou Xiaowei on March 16. GAPP will move from inspection standards that treat domestic and foreign games equally to become more strict when dealing with influential games such as The9’s (Nasdaq:NCTY) licensed MMORPG World of Warcraft, said Kou.

If you can’t beat them… get the government to beat them.

Note that this will mainly impact The9 (which has said they face bankruptcy if the state shenanigans continue to shenanigate). Blizzard themselves already has something of a contingency plan: another Chinese distributor, SoftWorld, in Taiwan, outside the reach of the “protection of Chinese culture” of the People’s Republic. The9 has already seen significant losses to the Taiwan version of WoW, which unlike The9 already has Wrath of the Lich King ready to go. And the fact that The9 is partially owned by a familiar company may indicate shenanigans of an entirely different sort.