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China Arts & Entertainment

‘Warcraft’ and Its Popularity in China

The release of ‘Warcraft’, the film adaption of the popular video game, has been breaking records in the Chinese box office. What’s on Weibo’s Chi Wen provides a short overview of ‘Warcraft’ and its popularity in China; the game was, and still is, the most popular western online game in China.

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The release of ‘Warcraft’, the film adaption of the popular video game, has been breaking records in the Chinese box office. What’s on Weibo’s Chi Wen provides a short overview of ‘Warcraft’ and its popularity in China. The game was, and still is, the most popular western online game in China.

Warcraft fans worldwide have been eagerly awaiting the release of a movie set in the Warcraft universe since it was first mentioned in 2006. This certainly includes its Chinese viewers, that have been fans of Warcraft since Internet Cafes became booming in the 1990s.

A Short History of the WarCraft Game

The adventures of Warcraft date all the way back to the 1990s. Before the famous World of Warcraft game came into existence, there was the “real-time strategy” game called Warcraft: Orcs and Humans.

The game was developed by the American Blizzard Entertainment and came out in 1994 featuring two races for the player to choose from. Set in the fantasy world of Azeroth, players chose either the humans or orcs. The goal of the game was to collect resources for building a town and an army with which to defeat the opposing force. The game was famous for setting a new standard for multiplayer games.


Blizzard followed Warcraft with Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness in 1995. The game was essentially the same as its predecessor with the added element of conducting battles at sea and better graphics. Like its predecessor, Warcraft II won many awards and was highly praised.

Fans of the game then had to wait another seven years for Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos and its expansion pack Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne. Warcraft III not only saw a huge upgrade in the graphics department, but it also saw the introduction of two new races: the Undead and the Night Elves. The game also marked the beginning of Warcraft’s adventures into China.

WarCraft: Game On in China

Warcraft III appeared in China just as the Internet was speeding up, which led to a new phenomenon called the Internet Cafe (网吧). The boom in Internet Cafes around China coupled with a ban on console games was a great factor in boosting the game’s popularity in China. Students would sneak off to Internet Cafes after or during class to try and dominate their friends in a game of Warcraft III (魔兽争霸III).

Warcraft III gained more popularity in 2004 after an unknown Chinese gamer named Sky (Li Xiaofeng, 李晓峰) won the 2005 World Cyber Games. Not only has Warcraft III influenced the competitive gaming scene in China but it also paved the way for World of Warcraft (魔兽世界).

Blizzard opted to go in a new direction for World of Warcraft. Instead of a real-time strategy game, World of Warcraft used the role-playing game formula. Set in the same fantasy world as the Warcraft games from before, World of Warcraft had players create avatars. Using these avatars, players would quest for gold and treasure throughout a vast landscape.

In 2005, Blizzard set upon a new quest to conquer China’s realm of MMORPGs with World of Warcraft.  Blizzard partnered with Shanghai-based The9 (第九城市) to handle localization and support in China.

To promote the game, The9 partnered with Coca-Cola. For their TV ads, Coca-Cola brought in Taiwanese girl band S.H.E, pop star Li Yuchun and Olympic gold medalist Liu Xiang. It was a recipe for success: within the first month, The9 reported 1.5 million active World of Warcraft players in China. The game was and still is the most popular western online game in China.

For the Love of WarCraft

Die-hard Warcraft fans around the world have creative ways to show their love for the game. A common way to pay homage to it, is through the art of cosplay. In China, however, fans have gone to extremes to show their appreciation of the game.

In 2008, a restaurant with medieval décor resembling the Warcraft universe opened up in Beijing. Customers to the restaurant where served by characters from the Warcraft universe and other MMORPGs. Sadly, the restaurant did not manage to garner as many fans as World of Warcraft did, and closed down in 2011.



The restaurant was not the only way China showed its love for Warcraft. In 2011, a theme park called Joyland (环球动漫嬉戏谷) in Changzhou opened its doors to the public. The theme park is famous for “borrowing” scenery and character designs from the Warcraft universe. Unlike the Warcraft-themed restaurant, the theme park is still up and running.


China’s most recent homage to Warcraft comes in the form a movie called My WoW (我的魔兽世界). My Wow started shooting in April this year and was set to hit theaters in May, a month before the Warcraft movie was due to be in theaters. Nothing much is known about the movie except that it will contain elements of romance, fantasy, and time-travel. Many Chinese fans, however, were not pleased with news about the movie; Chinese netizens’ response to My Wow were mostly negative, saying: “Don’t insult the name of Warcraft.”


Although Blizzard’s Warcraft seemingly has been one big success in Greater China, it has also not been all roses. Some fans were so devoted to the game, that they died while playing it. In order to prevent such tragedies from happening again, the Chinese government later added timers to online games. In 2005, it became mandatory for all online games to have a “timing mechanism”. The mechanism works by lowering the player’s game character’s ability to the lowest level after a set amount of time. Playing at a lower skill level created an unsatisfactory gaming experience. However, this effort to curb game addiction failed as gamers found a workaround by creating multiple accounts.

WarCraft in China: No Skeletons and Less Bloody

After 11 years, World of Warcraft is still a much-played game because of the release of expansion packs which add more playability to the game. Due to government regulations, the Warcraft games in China are a bit different than those from other countries. These regulations meant the game need a makeover for it to be allowed to be played on Chinese computer.

For the game to be allowed in China, The9 had to replace skeletons with headstones and make blood less “bloody”. Then, an application had to be submitted to the General Administration of Press and Publications  (中华人民共和国新闻出版总署) for approval. By the end of the long process, players in other countries had already been playing the expansion packs for months or even a year.

Despite the many delays, Warcraft still endured and managed to attract a generation of fans in China. And in order for the Warcraft sequel to happen, it would need the further support from fans in China.

WarCraft in China’s Cinemas

According to China Film Insider, Warcraft: The Beginning by Legendary Pictures is China’s most anticipated movies of all time.

Building up to the release of the movie, the Taiwanese hip hop group G.U.T.S (兄弟本色) released the song “We Will Rule (背水一戰)” to promote the movie. The music was heavily panned by Warcraft fans. “The sound effects from the game sounds better than their song,” commented one fan. “Trashy song, don’t sing a Warcraft song if you haven’t played Warcraft before,” another fan said on Weibo.

The Warcraft movie has entered theaters in China since June 8. On the first day it already broke China’s box office records, as it had the best premiere day for any film launched during the week in the history of China.

On Weibo, netizens rated the movie with an 8.4. Although many fans are positive about the movie, it seems that the long anticipation of seeing it was greater than realization. “It was good, but now that it’s finished, I feel lonely,” one netizen says. Let’s just pray to the Old Gods of Azeroth that there will soon be a sequel for fans to look forward to.

By Chi Wen

©2016 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at


Chi Wen is a freelance translator and writer who lives in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Besides translating and writing, he also teaches English as a Second Language to high school students. Chi is a self-proclaimed geek with a love for video games.

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China Arts & Entertainment

CCTV Spring Festival Gala 2018 (Live Blog)

It’s time for the CCTV 2018 New Year’s Gala – follow the highlights and the low points here.

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It is time for the CCTV Spring Festival Gala, one of the most-watched, most-discussed, and most mocked lived television events in the world, taking place on the Lunar New Year’s Eve. What’s on Weibo discusses the ins & outs of the 2018 edition and the social media frenzy surrounding it in this live blog.

The biggest live televised event in the world, the CCTV New Year’s Gala, also known as the Spring Festival Gala or Chunwan (春晚), is a true social media spectacle. On February 15th 2018, the 36th edition of the 4-hour-long live production is taking place.

The show, that is organized and produced by the state-run CCTV since 1983, is not just a way for millions of viewers to celebrate the Lunar New Year (除夕); it is also an important opportunity for the Communist Party to communicate official ideology to the people and to showcase the nation’s top performers.

Watch the live stream here on What’s on Weibo (if you have no access to YouTube, please check the CCTV live stream here).

What’s on Weibo provides you with the ins & outs of the 2018 Gala and its social media frenzy, with updates before, during and after the show. Follow our liveblog below (we recommend you keep your browser open – you’ll hear a ‘beep’ when updated). (Note: this live blog is now closed, thank you!).

By Manya Koetse, with contributions via WeChat from Boyu Xiao, Diandian Guo, and Tim Peng

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

If you enjoy What’s on Weibo and support the way we report the latest trends in China, we would appreciate your donation. It does not need to be much; we can use every penny to help pay for the upkeep, maintenance, and betterment of this site. See this page for more information.

©2018 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at

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China Comic & Games

Chinese Media Ascribe ‘Traveling Frog’ Game Hype to China’s Low Birth Rates

Is the Traveling Frog more like a husband or like a baby? It’s a topic of debate on Weibo.

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The Japanese mobile game ‘Traveling Frog’ is a hit among young working – mainly female – adults in China. According to various Chinese media, the ‘virtual frog’ fills a void in a society that faces year-on-year declining birth rates.

“Has your frog returned home yet?” – it is a somewhat odd question that has become normal since the ‘Traveling Frog’ (旅行青蛙/旅かえる) mobile game has become all the rage in China.

In the Traveling Frog game, that is now dominating China’s online mobile gaming charts, players have to help a little frog prepare for his travels across Japan.

The app is characterized by its unique design and revolves around a frog who lives in a stone cave and goes on frequent trips. Once he goes traveling, the frog comes back with local delicacies and snapshots of his adventures – but players are never sure how long their virtual friend stays away from home.

With its cute design and stress-free strategy, the hype surrounding Traveling Frog is somewhat comparable to that of the Tamagotchi in the 1990s and early 2000s. The frog, which players can give its own name, is like a mobile cyber pet that players have to keep an eye on and take care of.

Although the game was initially meant for young girls, it is now a hit amongst young working adults, mainly women.

A Virtual Baby

Over the past week, various Chinese media outlets have connected the success of the game to China’s low birth rates. writes: “Facing higher house prices, intensive jobs, the collapse of the [hierarchical] pyramid family structure, and huge medical and educational costs, we can no longer deny the reality that more and more young people are choosing not to get married and not to have children. And ‘nursing a frog’ is one kind of psychological substitute for ‘nursing a baby.'”

The news site reports that the obsession of some people over their frog is comparable to a parent’s worries over a child; players are so upset when their frog does not return home during the night, that they cannot sleep.

Despite the shift from China’s One Child Policy to the Two Child Policy, China’s birth rates have been declining year-on-year; 17.23 million newborns were added to China’s population last year – 630,000 less than the year before.

China News also reports about the deep attachment some players show for their virtual pet, and suggest that the Traveling Frog is a “low-cost way” in which people can “fill an emotional gap” in their lives.

Baby or Husband?

The suggestion that the virtual frog is like a baby has stirred discussions on Weibo about the matter, with some wondering if the frog really is like a baby, or if he is more like a friend, partner, or husband; the matter in itself has become an online squabble between netizens and media.

According to gamer’s platform 17173 (@17173游戏网), the designer of the game, Mayuko Mura (村真裕子), recently refuted the idea that the traveling frog is like a child. In an interview, she said: “For Japanese players, the frog is actually more like their husband, who goes on business trips and then comes home with some local specialties and photos.”

Mura Mayuko, the game’s designer.

Many Chinese netizens were not too happy with the explanation. “If my husband would stay away a night and a day, I’d be infuriated!”, some said. “So now you’re telling me I’m raising a guy?!”, others commented.

The interview even led some people to wonder about the butterfly that is often depicted on the snapshots the frog sends players from his travels, suspecting she represents his mistress.

Is the butterfly on the snapshots in fact the frog’s mistress?

But according to news outlet Pear Video, Mura’s words have been misinterpreted. In a recorded phone conversation, she does say that for many Japanese players, the frog is more like a ‘husband,’ but that the original intention of the game was never to turn the frog into anything but itself.

“We just want players to freely enjoy the game and turn the frog’s role into whatever they want,” one of the game’s developers told Pear Video.

One author on Weibo (@魔力的真髓) reflects on the idea that the Traveling Frog apparently plays a different role in Japan than in China, and writes: “How comfortable it must be to be a husband in Japan, where you don’t have to do anything around the house, your wife serves you, and then you just take off with the things your wife prepared for you, and go out and seek an extramarital affair.”

“Whatever, the island nation turns it into a husband, we turn it into a child,” one pragmatic netizen concludes. Another Weibo user adds: “What’s the difference – husbands nowadays are like babies anyway.”

Others commenting on the issue, however, are too occupied with the real important matters: “It’s been three days, and he still isn’t back,” one unhappy commenter writes. Another one has the same worries: “All I want to know is why my baby has gone traveling for a week, and still hasn’t come home..”

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2018 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at

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