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‘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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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 info@whatsonweibo.com

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 Celebs

Weibo Shuts Down Rumors of Tong Liya’s Alleged Marriage to CMG President Shen Haixiong

The censorship surrounding the Tong Liya story almost drew more attention than the actual rumors themselves.

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The famous actress and dancer Tong Liya (佟丽娅, 1983) has had an eventful year. After hosting the CCTV Spring Festival Gala in 2020, she performed at the CCTV Spring Festival Gala in February of 2021 and in May she announced that after seven years of marriage, she finalized her divorce with actor and director Chen Sicheng (陈思诚).

Tong Liya is of Xibe ethnicity and was born in Xinjiang. The former beauty pageant and award-winning actress is known for her roles in many films and TV series, such as those in The Queens and Beijing Love Story. She also starred in the 2021 Chinese historical film 1921, which focuses on the founding of the Communist Party of China.

This month, online rumors about Tong flooded the internet, alleging that she was recently remarried to Shen Haixiong (慎海雄, 1967), the deputy minister of the Party’s Central Propaganda Department and the President of the CMG (China Media Group), which includes CCTV, China National Radio, and China Radio International.

Some of the rumors included those claiming the actress was previously Shen’s mistress, or netizens connecting Tong Liya’s relations with such an influential and powerful person to her role at the previous CCTV Spring Gala Festival.

But these rumors did not stay online for long, and the quick censorship itself became somewhat of a spectacle. As reported by China Digital Times, the topic ‘Tong Liya’s Remarriage’ (‘佟丽娅再婚’) was completely taken offline.

Following the rumors and censorship, it first was announced that Tong reported the online rumors about her to the police, with the hashtag “Tong Liya Reports the Case to Authorities” (#佟丽娅报案#) receiving over 310 million clicks. On December 23rd, the hashtag “Beijing Police is Handling Tong Liya’s Report” (#北京警方受理佟丽娅报案#) went viral online, attracting over 1.7 billion (!) views on Weibo within three days.

The Beijing Haidian police statement on Weibo is as follows:

In response to the recent rumors on the Internet, the public security authorities have accepted Tong Liya’s report, and the case is now under investigation. The internet is not a place beyond the law, and illegal acts such as starting rumors and provoking trouble will be investigated and punished according to the law.”

The statement led to some confused responses among netizens who wanted to know more about what was actually reported and what it is the police are exactly ‘investigating.’

On Twitter, Vice reporter Viola Zhou wrote that the censorship “angered many young people,” some of whom lost their social media accounts for discussing Tong Liya’s second marriage: “It’s now prompting a mass pushback against the potential abuse of censorship power.”

In an attempt to circumvent censorship, and perhaps also ridicule it, some netizens even resorted to morse code to write about Tong Liya.

One Weibo post about the issue by Legal Daily received over 3000 comments, yet none were displayed at the time of writing.

The case is allegedly still being investigated by Beijing authorities.

By Manya Koetse

With contributions by Miranda Barnes.

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2021 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Celebs

China’s Livestreaming Queen Viya Goes Viral for Fraud and Fines, Ordered to Pay $210 Million

Viya, the Queen of Taobao, is under fire for tax evasion.

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Viya, one of China’s most well-known and successful live streamers, is trending today for allegedly committing tax fraud by deliberately providing false information and concealing personal income.

The ‘Taobao queen’ Viya (薇娅, real name Huang Wei 黄薇) reportedly committed tax fraud from 2019 to 2020, during which she evaded some 643 million yuan ($100 million) in taxes and also failed to pay an additional 60 million yuan ($9.4 million) in taxes.

The Hangzhou Tax Administration Office reportedly ordered Viya to pay an amount of over 1.3 billion yuan ($210 million) in taxes, late payment fees, and other fines. On Monday, a hashtag related to the issue had garnered over 600 million views on Weibo (#薇娅偷逃税被追缴并处罚款13.41亿元#).

Viya made headlines in English-language media earlier this year when she participated in a promotional event for Single’s Day on October 20th and managed to sell 20 billion yuan ($3.1 billion) in merchandise in just one live streaming session together with e-commerce superstar Lipstick King.

China has a booming livestreaming e-commerce market, and Viya is one of the top influencers to have joined the thriving online sales industry years ago. When the e-commerce platform Taobao started their Taobao Live initiative (mixing online sales with livestreams), Viya became one of their top sellers as millions of viewers starting joining her channel every single day (she livestreams daily at 7.30 pm).

With news about Viya’s tax fraud practices and enormous fines going viral on Chinese social media, many are attacking the top influencer, as her tax fraud case seems to be even bigger than that of Chinese actress Fan Bingbing (范冰冰).

Chinese actress Fan Bingbing went “missing” for months back in 2018 when she was at the center of a tax evasion scandal. The actress was ordered to pay taxes and fines worth hundreds of millions of yuan over tax evasion. The famous actress eventually paid approximately $128,5 million in taxes and fines, less than Viya was ordered to pay this month.

Like Fan Bingbing, Viya will also not be held criminally liable if the total amount is paid in time. This was the first time for the e-commerce star to be “administratively punished” for tax evasion.

Around 5pm on Monday, Viya posted a public apology on her Weibo account, saying she takes on full responsibility for the errors she made: “I was wrong, and I will bear all the consequences for my mistakes. I’m so sorry!”

It is not clear if she will still do her daily live stream later today and how this news will impact Viya’s future career.

Update: Vaya’s live stream was canceled.

Update 2: Vaya’s husband also issued an apology on Weibo.

Update 3: Taobao has suspended or ‘frozen’ (“冻结”) Vaya’s livestreaming channel. Her Taobao store is still online.

By Manya Koetse

With contributions by Miranda Barnes.

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2021 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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