Warcraft game falls into war of gov't departments
www.chinaview.cn 2009-11-04 20:27:19   Print

    by Xinhua writer Wang Cong

    BEIJING, Nov. 4 (Xinhua) -- Zuo Yuanyuan, a veteran online gameplayer, is seriously considering a new base for his dragon-slaying dungeon exploration.

    "I'm thinking about Taiwan, or maybe the United States," said the 29-year-old game enthusiastic who works in a travel agency in Beijing.

    Like Zuo, Chinese players of World of Warcraft (WoW), one of the world's most popular online games, felt perplexed, and helpless too, when their game characters were drained into a jurisdiction spat of government departments.

    On Monday, the General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) rejected Chinese Internet portal NetEase's application seeking approval for the Chinese version of WoW.

    NetEase violated a rule banning new account registration and collection of subscription fees during a trial period that started July 30, when the firm was ordered to "revise harmful content" in the game, the GAPP said.

    The ministry-level administration said it might terminate access to the popular online game.

    However, in an unexpected twist, China's Ministry of Culture (MOC) on Tuesday criticized GAPP's ban on WoW as "abusing its authority."

    "Online games and publications are subject to administration by the MOC," said Li Xiong, a MOC official in charge of market affairs.

    Both the GAPP and MOC insisted they are each the sole regulator of the profitable online games in China.

    The chaos has mainly been caused by different interpretations of their responsibilities when exercising their powers, and overlapping jurisdiction among government departments, said Prof. Wang Yukai of China National School of Administration in an interview with Xinhua.

    However, ordinary Chinese gamers just want the power struggle to end as soon as possible.

    "I just want to enjoy the game like gamers in other parts of the world. If things keep going this way, I think I might consider playing on servers in Taiwan," Zuo Yuanyuan said.

    "It may cost a bit more, but it would be easier that way," he said.

    According to an online survey conducted by ngacn.cc, a Chinese fan site for WoW, more than 53 percent of about 66,000 gamers polled said they would continue to play WoW on servers in Taiwan, the United States or Europe, if the game is banned in the Chinese mainland.

    NetEase refused to make any official comment, but the Chinese WoW is currently still accessible on Wednesday.

    The online role-playing game has around five million active subscribers in China. A financial report of The9, a former operator of the Chinese WoW prior to NetEase, showed the game booked net revenue of 380 million yuan (56 million dollars) in the fourth quarter of 2008.

    But Chinese gamers' disappointment is not the only yield from the rivalry between the Ministry of Culture and the GAPP, which also concerns some experts as another example of the overlapping jurisdiction among government departments.

    Shi Jie, a lawyer in Beijing told Xinhua Wednesday that more than ten government departments including the agricultural, industrial, commercial, health and quality inspection departments, had their own different regulations on food safety, which made supervision on the issue very hard.

    "They fight for regulating powers with each other, but many tend to shrug off responsibilities when food safety accidents occur," said Shi, who is also a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

    Pan Yue, vice minister of environmental protection, also said in earlier reports that separate water administration by multiple government organs could never solve China's water pollution problem which has continued to deteriorate.

    "The government should make sure that one issue is regulated by one particular government department," said Wang Yukai.

    "The boundaries of jurisdiction of different departments should be clearly stated," he said.

Editor: Li Xianzhi
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