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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

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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

Chinese Actor Zhao Lixin Banned from Weibo over Comments on Second Sino-Japanese War

The actor was banned for “downplaying” the Japanese aggression in China during the Second Sino-Japanese War.

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Sina Weibo issued a statement on April 16 that the Weibo account of the Chinese-Swedish actor Zhao Lixin has been terminated following remarks he made about Japan’s invasion of China and the Second Sino-Japanese War.

The Weibo account of Zhao Lixin (赵立新, 1968) has been closed after the Chinese-Swedish actor made controversial comments on the Second Sino-Japanese War.

On April 2nd, Zhao Lixin, who had more than 7 million followers, posted a message on Weibo that questioned why the Japanese military did not pillage and destroy the Beijing Palace Museum during the Second Sino-Japanese War:

The Japanese occupied Beijing for eight years. Why didn’t they steal relics from the Palace Museum and burn it down [during that time]? Is this in line with the nature of an invader?

The actor also commented on the Nanjing Massacre of 1937, suggesting that it was a consequence of Chinese resistance to the Japanese invasion.

Zhao’s post led to much controversy in early April, followed by a lengthy apology statement from the actor on April 3rd, in which he said he did not phrase his comments carefully enough and that he was remorseful over the storm of criticism he had ignited. His controversial Weibo post was soon taken offline.

Many people were mostly angered because they felt Zhao’s comments “defended” the Japanese invaders. “Zhao’s permit to work in China should be terminated forever!”, some commenters posted on Weibo.

The Second Sino-Japanese War is still a highly sensitive topic in China today, with anti-Japanese sentiments often flaring up when Japan-related topics go trending on Chinese social media.

The ‘Nanjing massacre’ or ‘Rape of Nanjing’ is an especially sensitive topic within the history of the Second Sino-Japanese War, also because some Japanese politicians and scholars consistently deny it even happened, heightening the tension between the two countries. For a Chinese celebrity to seemingly ‘downplay’ the aggression and atrocities committed by Japanese invaders in the 1937-1945 period is therefore highly controversial.

Despite Zhao’s apologies, Sina Weibo issued a notice on April 16 “Relating to Harmful Political Information” (关于时政有害信息的处理公告), stating that the account of Zhao Lixin, along with some others, had been closed for spreading this kind of information.

The hashtag relating to Zhao’s social media suspension received more than 57 million views on Weibo today.

“It’s good that his account was taken down,” a popular comment said: “It’s insulting our country.” Others said that Zhao should not have posted something that is “out of line” “considering his position as an actor.”

Zhao Lixin is mainly known for his roles in TV dramas such as The Legend of Mi Yue, Memoirs In China, and In the Silence.

Zhao is not the first KOL (Key Opinion Leader) to have been banned from Weibo after making controversial remarks relating to China’s history. In 2016 the famous entrepreneur Ren Zhiqiang disappeared from Weibo after publishing various posts on his experience with communism in the past, and the status quo of media in China.

By Manya Koetse , with contributions from Miranda Barnes

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please email us.

©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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Chinese TV Dramas

Catharsis on Taobao? Chinese ‘All is Well’ TV Drama Fans Are Paying Up to Scold the ‘Su Family Villains’

Some netizens are getting too worked up over this hit TV drama.

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Chinese TV drama ‘All is Well’ is such an online hit, that the collective despise for the fictional villains in the story is getting all too real. The show itself, along with an online service to scold its characters, has become a trending topic on Chinese social media this week.

The Chinese TV series All is Well (都挺好) is such a success that some people would even pay to scold the drama’s main ‘villains.’ One Taobao seller had nearly one thousand customers paying a fee this week for a special service to curse the characters they despise so much.

All is Well is a 46-episode urban TV drama that premiered on March 1st of this year on Zhejiang and Jiangsu Television. The series is based on the novel by A’nai (阿耐), who is also known for writing the super popular Ode to Joy TV drama.

All is Well tells the story of white-collar worker Su Mingyu and the conflicts within her family. The role of this daughter is played by Chinese actress Yao Chen (姚晨), one of the most popular celebrities on Weibo.

Yao Chen in All is Well.

As the only daughter, Su Mingyu is the black sheep of the family and grows up feeling lonely and unloved. When her mother suddenly passes away, the Su family falls apart. The father becomes selfish and overbearing, while her brothers are also unsuccessful in keeping the family together.

The three men within the Su family have become much-hated characters on Chinese social media for their selfishness and manipulative traits. Su Mingcheng (Li Junting) is Mingyu’s older brother, Su Mingzhe (Gao Xin) is her younger brother, and Su Daqiang (Ni Dahong) is her father.

While the TV drama is a major hit, many fans seem to take pleasure in scolding the main characters. On Weibo, some netizens are changing their names into some of the Su villains, allowing others to scold them.

But there are also people who have turned the collective contempt for the Su men into a small business. On e-commerce site Taobao, one seller set up a service to “curse the Su family father and sons” (怒骂苏家三父子), charging a 0.5 yuan fee, Caijing reports.

Various Chinese media report that the seller has had at least 300 customers over the past week who could “vent their anger” about the drama’s characters. The seller would open a chat window, displaying the photo and name of one of the three despised characters, and pretending to be them. He also displays a counter that shows how many times the characters have been scolded by customers.

Other news sites report that there are at least 40 online shops selling this ‘scolding service’ to customers, with one seller allegedly serving nearly 1000 customers in one day.

The topic, under the hashtag “Online Shop Sells Service to Scold the Su Father and Sons” (#网店出售怒骂苏家三父子服务#), received nearly 100 million views on Weibo this week.

Many netizens are surprised and amused that their favorite TV drama has turned into a business opportunity for Taobao sellers. “I’m a shop seller,” one commenter says: “I give all the money to charity. I work during the day, but in the evenings I’m here for all of you!”

“Is this the rival of the Kua Kua group?”, one commenter wonders. Kua Kua groups, as we recently explained in this article, are online chat groups where people can be complimented or praised, sometimes for money. The current scolding groups, in a way, serve a similar purpose: offering netizens a way to vent their feelings and feel a bit better.

Although the cursing may provide emotional catharsis for some, others just find it really funny. “How about you give me one yuan, and I scold you?”, one commenter suggests: “It’s crazy that these type of services exist.”

All is Well can be viewed through iQiyi (without English subtitles, regional restrictions apply – VPN).

Also see:

By Manya Koetse 

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please email us.

©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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What’s on Weibo provides social, cultural & historical insights into an ever-changing China. What’s on Weibo sheds light on China’s digital media landscape and brings the story behind the hashtag. This independent news site is managed by sinologist Manya Koetse. Contact info@whatsonweibo.com. ©2014-2018

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