Bones and skeletons have disappeared from the Chinese version of
the popular on-line fantasy game, World of Warcraft (WoW), sparking
fierce criticism from the nation's army of players.
Chinese mainland gamers have waited half a year longer than
their US counterparts for the upgraded version of the WoW, only to
find the appearances of familiar skeletal characters have been
The skeletons, regular characters, grow flesh in the new version
and the bones symbolizing dead characters have been changed to
A staff member with the public relations department of The9,
which runs WoW in China, was quoted by a Guangzhou-based newspaper
Southern Metropolis Daily as saying the changes were made
according to "China's particular situation and relevant
"It's to promote a healthy and harmonious on-line environment,"
the anonymous staff said, according to the newspaper.
However, Zhao Yurun, public relations director of The9, denied
the explanation in an interview with Xinhua and said the changes
were made as part of an "operational strategy".
He said the company updated the game seven to eight times each
year, adding patches that required no government approval to the
However, he said the changes in the latest version were the
foundations for the first official expansion of WoW, "The Burning
Crusade", which was awaiting approval by the State Press and
Publication Administration (SPPA) and is expected to be released
"We hope the expansion pack will successfully get the approval
in acknowledgement of the self-discipline of our company," Zhao
Wang Guoqing, director with the SPPA Video, Electronics and
Internet Publication Management Department, said "The Burning
Crusade" was still under expert consideration and she could make no
comment till the final decision was released.
The gamers thought the changes made the game dull and voiced
their scorn on the official WoW website, filling more than ten
pages with criticism.
More than 500 gamers signed a post, announcing they would
boycott the game.
"Why should we accept the so-called 'good appearance' without
the opportunity of being consulted?" wrote player "Cai Xu".
"We don't need such harmony," wrote "Xue Linglong".
Wang Cong, a journalist who has played the game for two years,
said he would continue to play, but "I just think it's funny to
make such meaningless changes".
Zhao Yurun said the company had received no formal complaints
from gamers, which should be delivered by letters or phone calls
with the petitioners real names.
The monster-killing game, first launched by California-based
Blizzard Entertainment in 2004, is one of the most popular on-line
role-playing games involving multiple players
It has 8.5 million players worldwide, with more than 3.5 million
"The Burning Crusade" was released in other countries on January
The government has been urging Internet companies to clean up
websites and offer only legal and "healthy" content.
More than 100 news websites in China published a self-discipline
regulation in May, pledging to purify the Internet environment.
The websites vowed to standardize news collection, editing and
publication, and eliminate false news and illegal information.
They also promise to exclude pornographic and violent content
from their websites.
(Xinhua News Agency July 10, 2007)