January 10, 2015

PS4 Postponement Due to Region Locking Issue

On January 8th, Sony announced that the Chinese release of its console and games, originally set for January 11th, would be postponed. The official message said it was due to "various reasons," but gave no specifics. When pressed by Chinese media to list specific reasons, Sony officials gave no comment, saying only to the Wall Street Journal that it had nothing to do with the recent PSN and Sony cyberattacks or with Japanese-Chinese relations.

However, this postponement followed an email posted online by an official in the Beijing Municipal Cultural Bureau on December 31st, stating a concern that the PS4 was not region-locked and would be able to run games and content bought from other countries without regulatory review, including software that "involve violence, drugs, crime, and other illegal activities."  Players are now convinced that the postponement was a result of that email, and a good old doxing went underway.

In response to death threats sent through Baidu Tieba and a flood of hostile phone calls, the author of the email (whose name was not revealed in the article) published a response defending his actions titled, "No matter what you say, I would still report, so go ahead and criticize me". He writes,
Why report?
1. Join in the fun, it looked fun, and I wasn't the only one sending reports
2. I wanted to see if Sony is slyly trying to take advantage of loopholes
3. I wanted to see the definite attitude of the government
4. I wanted to see what Microsoft will do [editor's note: the XBox One release was also postponed in September due to auditing issues]

Reporting was the only way to make these issues clear.
 He also defends his actions by saying:
In fact, if Sony wasn't abusing loopholes, then my report wouldn't have had any effect. If Sony was using loopholes, then I was only putting it forward-- sooner or later, it would get locked. So my report wouldn't have any meaning unless it was proven true.

While gamers are frustrated and disappointed, another article from Beijing Business Today says this shouldn't come as a surprise to anybody.Despite the fact that the 14-year ban on consoles has finally been lifted, it will by no means be an easy transition for foreign companies like Sony and Microsoft.

According to gamers, there is a huge demand for high-quality games-- Sony and Microsoft are both eying the Chinese market greedily, and they hope that whichever one can get their blockbuster games into the market first will likely capture the majority of gamers in one fell swoop.

However, game consoles and products brought into the Chinese domestic market must face strict administrative procedures. Everything is subject to regulatory policy, meaning blockbuster AAA games don't get to skip the auditing process, even if there's a high demand for them and little enthusiasm for domestically produced games. This contradiction is something both Sony and Microsoft will have to face as they venture into the Chinese gaming market.

In their statement to the Wall Street Journal, president of Sony Computer Entertainment Andrew House stated that the delay followed “a request from the authorities to make an adjustment to the business plan,” and that the delay would not affect Sony's overall sales expectations foe the PS4 this year.

January 8, 2015

PlayStation Release Date Postponed

Sony Computer Entertainment (Shanghai) and Shanghai Oriental Pearl Group Co Ltd announced today that the original Chinese Mainland release date for Sony's consoles, accessories, and software will be postponed from its original January 11, 2015 release date due to "various reasons".

The official message goes on to read, "We sincerely thank all the players who have supported and encouraged us, and we look forward to our continued journey together!"

Users online have speculated that the PS4 postponement might have something to do with a complaint received by Beijing Municipal Cultural Bureau official Liu Ruizhe and posted by him on Baidu on December 31 which read:

PlayStation 4 (referred to as PS4) is expected to  release in January 2015 as reported by major media outlets. It can run a variety games from other countries that have not been audited by the Chinese Cultural Bureau, including Grand Theft Auto V which advocates drugs, violence, crime, killings, promiscuity, and other details of the game, seriously affecting the construction of Chinese culture. I strongly urge a block of this kind of behavior that shows contempt for China's law by Sony China.

Sony and Shanghai Oriental Pearl Group set up a joint venture back in May 2014, after consoles in China were legalized, to make and market Sony's PlayStation game console in China.

January 3, 2015

Riot Plans English Broadcast of Chinese Competitive League of Legends

It was only a matter of time before the Chinese League of Legends scene would be picked up in the US, after placing second in the last two World Championships, having a team move from China to compete in the US domestic scene, and having an influx of players move from Korea to China.

Meanwhile, fan-created and fan-run group LPLen, which had originally been casting an English version of the LPL (Tencent LoL Pro League) on Twitch, will now be shut down. They had been pursuing an agreement with Tencent to create an official English broadcast of the tournaments, something that is no longer possible with the agreement between Riot and Tencent. According to the Daily Dot, "Riot has yet to offer any an opportunity to continue their work alongside the official Riot broadcast."

August 8, 2014

Team LMQ: From China to the North American LCS to the World Championship

LMQ is a competitive League of Legends eSports team (a sister team to Royal Club) that moved from China to the US in December to play in US sanctioned tournaments. They secured a spot in the League Championship Series by going undefeated in the Challenger Series and finishing the Challenger playoffs 5-2. They then went on to win second place in the NA LCS Summer Regular Season, and third place in the NA LCS Summer Playoffs, securing a place at the World Championship in September alongside American teams Cloud 9 and Team SoloMid.

It's somewhat common for Western teams to play in Asian competitions (in South Korea, usually) because it's an opportunity for them to learn from some of the best, more competitive teams and assess teams they might face in world championships. It's very rare for an Asian team to move to the West for competition, primarily because of financial issues and the difficulty with moving abroad (such as obtaining visas and sponsorships), but also likely because they're somewhat sacrificing their fan base in their home country.

I'm not sure what their motivation for moving was, perhaps they felt they would be more successful in North America-- which they have been; it would be interesting to find out.

July 21, 2014

China's NewBee Wins the International Dota 2 Championship

Sixteen of the top Dota teams competed this past weekend in the fourth International Dota 2 Championship in Seattle, with Chinese team NewBee bringing home a grand prize of $5,028,308 USD. They defeated another Chinese team, Vici Gaming, three games to one in the best-of-five final round.

China also won the International in 2012 with Invictus Gaming, but teams from Sweden and the Ukraine have been neck and neck with China until this year.

On Weibo, user 银海螺头 wrote, "Americans are ignorant: they don't call themselves NewBee (as in newbie)! Chinese Team Newbee is a transliteration, in fact it means fucking awesome (牛逼 niúbī; literally "cow pussy")!" Another user wrote, "Foreigners finally know how to read niúbī." Others expected that most of the winnings would likely go to the club owners, taxes, and the administration, meaning the players would see very little of their $1 million USD winnings.

It was the first time ESPN carried the Dota 2 Championships on its network. You could watch the tournament on the ESPN3 streaming channel, and a finals preview aired on ESPN2. Weibo user 雅痞的狐太郎 hoped that since ESPN had broadcasts , CCTV5 might follow suit soon, if only for the finals.

July 16, 2014

Some MMO Babe Déjà vu

Well, this is interesting. Originally, I was going to do a write-up of this article from Games.QQ, titled "Clothed Can Be Cute Too! The Top MMO Super Babes" which was published today (July 17th in China). However, when looking up a similar Western list to compare it to, I came across this list by MMOGames that was published last month on June 26th. They're exactly the same list-- the same women in the same order, using the same pictures, even the same descriptions and titles. It's a direct translation.

Apparently, China doesn't only produce unofficial Chinese translations of video games-- they also produce unofficial Chinese translations of video game journalism. There is no link to the original story, only a link to Gaming Online (another Chinese news site), and no mention of the original author (BroadcastDinosaur).

Granted, I do somewhat of the same thing: find popular articles in Chinese and then translate them, but at least I say what I'm doing and post the source. I'll have to be more careful in the future, that I'm not translating something that already exists in English! Anyway, it's nice to know that both China and the West agree that Shae Vizla of Star Wars: The Old Republic is the hottest MMO babe.

July 14, 2014

Diablo 3 Arrives on the Mainland: "Sorry I'm late!"

Only two years after its release, Diablo 3 is finally making the Pacific leap to China where it will finally reunite with its Blizzard line-up brethren (Hearthstone, Heroes of Warcraft, Heroes of the Storm, StarCraft 2 and World of Warcraft). Diablo 3 had been banned while it was being reviewed by the Chinese Ministry of Culture (likely a lengthy endeavor considering the franchise's liberal use of skeletons and corpses, which the Chinese government is less than tolerant of in entertainment media), though it didn't stop gamers from acquiring and playing it anyway.

Blizzard is once again partnering with NetEase, their Chinese operator for all their other games. In the press release published on the Diablo 3 Chinese website, Blizzard Entertainment co-founder and CEO Mike Morhaime stated, "We are very excited to welcome the many enthusiastic players from mainland China to Sanctuary! We are grateful for the support Chinese gamers have given us from the beginning, and hope they enjoy Diablo 3!" NetEase CEO and founder William Ding added, "We're very excited that with our effort, all five of Blizzard Entertainment's game series will be delivered to Chinese players. We'll continue to work closely with Blizzard to prepare for a smooth Diablo 3 launch in China so that local gamers can start playing this epic adventure as soon as possible."

Diablo 3 announces its Mainland release by writing, "Sorry I'm late! [cry]"

On Weibo, users wondered whether there would be an "anti-harmony" patch, which would undo all the changes that the Ministry of Culture likely inflicted on the content. Others complained that it's come too late, and that nobody will be interested in the "harmonized" version. Others simply wanted to know the release date, and whether it would be available on Mac. User水木三又 asked, "I don't know, what kind of harmonization did they do? The bodies aren't all like Hello Kitty now are they?"

July 8, 2014

Free Sushi for League of Legend Challenger Ranks

This month, King's Sushi in China is offering deals for ranked League of Legends players. If you're bronze or silver you receive 10% off, gold gets 15% off, platinum gets 20% off, Master fers 30% off and Challenger receives a free meal. The offer is only available for the lunch and dinner 6 piece.

King's Sushi is located in the Xigong District of Luoyang City in Henan province. Inside it has PCs to play League of Legends on, a PS3, and a 150 inch TV wall. King's Sushi also hosts League of Legends events throughout the year.