Blizzard and local operator NetEase have beaten the Chinese bureaucracy machine to finally peg a release date on WoW expansion Wrath of the Lich King.
The add-on will be available to Chinese players on August 31, the companies said this morning.
This has been a long time coming. The Chinese government blocked attempts to launch the expansion as far back as March 2009, saying it didn’t “meet requirements” thanks to a city raid and skeleton characters.
Wrath of the Lich King originally launched in the US and EU in November 2008.
The launch appears to mark a breakthrough for Blizzard in China, after years of clashes with the local authorities.
Wow’s first major expansion, The Burning Crusade, was only allowed to launch in China in February this year – having released in the west in January 2007 – but only after suspended sign-ups and general hot water over licensing issues.
Blizzard is likely to be relieved at a green light to publish the Chinese version of Lich King so quickly after releasing Burning Crusade, however, as the company is anticipating the new versions to kick the MMO back into growth, as boss Frank Pearce told VG247 in May.
Blizzard head Mike Morhaime praised the game’s Chinese fans this morning, and seemed as pleased as he ever is that the dam on his firm’s operations in China appears to have finally burst.
“We appreciate the continued passion and support that Chinese players have shown for World of Warcraft, and we’re working hard to ensure that they have a topnotch gaming experience when Wrath of the Lich King is released,” he said.
“This expansion contains some of the best content we’ve ever created for the game, and we’re excited that Chinese players will soon have a chance to explore everything it has to offer.”