By Raffaele Huang

 

Chinese videogame maker NetEase Inc. launched the "Diablo Immortal" in China on Monday, after it delayed the title's debut in the world's biggest gaming market for more than a month.

Users are required to register with real identities, and the game isn't open to people under 18 years of age, NetEase said in a statement.

NetEase originally scheduled release of the highly anticipated multiplayer game that it codeveloped with Activision Blizzard for June 23, but then it rescheduled only days before the launch date, citing a need for technical adjustments.

Blizzard released the game in other Asia-Pacific regions, including Hong Kong and Singapore, on July 8.

The release of "Diablo Immortal" in China is the latest test of Beijing's attitude toward the videogame market, which has been hit by tightened regulations on minors' playing time and a freeze on new-title licensing that began last summer.

China's regulator resumed granting approvals for new games in April, but none from NetEase and its bigger rival Tencent Holdings Ltd. have been approved since then.

In the first half of this year, revenue from China's domestic videogame industry declined 1.8% from a year earlier to $21.9 billion, according to the state-backed China Audio-Video and Digital Publishing Association. That was the first drop since such data became available in 2008, as tightened regulations added operating costs to companies while China's weakened economy dented gamer sentiment, the association said.

The growth of Chinese games in overseas markets also slowed from a year earlier, to 6.2%, data from the association showed. Still, more Chinese videogame developers are pivoting to overseas, deploying new studios abroad and developing games for global gamers.

NetEase said last week that its game unit had opened a new studio in Seattle led by Jerry Hook, an industry veteran who helped launch Microsoft's Xbox.

 

Write to Raffaele Huang at raffaele.huang@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 25, 2022 03:35 ET (07:35 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2022 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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