The General Administration of Press and Publications (GAPP) said Monday night it will halt the approval process for the World of WarCraft (WoW), giving the popular online game an uncertain fate on the Chinese mainland.
The game, played by more than 1 million mainlanders, has been in jeopardy since Nasdaq-listed NetEase.com replaced The9 Ltd as its operator on the mainland in July.
Two Chinese regulators, the GAPP and the Ministry of Culture, claimed the rights to review and approve the WoW and they had differing opinions about allowing it to continue.
"NetEase should stop charging users and close its servers immediately; otherwise it will be punished through measures such as suspension of Internet services," the GAPP said in a statement.
The GAPP said that it allowed NetEase to start beta testing of WoW on July 30 on condition that it did not charge gamers and stopped new account registration. But NetEase began charging players and taking new account registration on September 19 without GAPP permission.
The GAPP said downloading online games is also an "online publication". GAPP is responsible for reviewing and approving "publications", and the ministry has the right to regulate the "online game" market.
The Ministry of Culture, however, said the GAPP doesn't have the right to review the game, and the ministry is still taking a look at it, sina.com reported Monday, citing Liu Qiang, a ministry official.
NetEase said it was still negotiating with administrations, without providing details.
The WoW game is expected to bring in "several million yuan daily" after it goes into formal operation, according to analysts.