A social media post believed to mock Chinese president Xi Jinping was behind the last-minute delay to Diablo Immortal in China, a report has suggested.
This contrasts with the official reasoning given by Chinese developer and publisher NetEase in June, which said it was holding back the game’s launch for “content enhancement”.
NetEase declined to comment when contacted by Eurogamer.
In a report last night, Bloomberg sources stated that the delay was in reality due to “a deleted social media post interpreted as criticism of Chinese President Xi Jinping”, which resulted in the game’s Weibo account being blocked for “violating relevant laws and regulations”.
In a follow-up report, Massively linked this to a screenshot of a Winnie the Pooh reference allegedly posted by the game’s Weibo account before it was deleted.
Chinese censors regularly remove references to Winnie the Pooh, whose likeness is used in memes and jokes to reference the country’s president.
Internet speculation had previously connected the game’s delay to the Diablo social media account being removed – though this is the first time a reputable report claims to have connected the dots.
“The development team is making a number of optimisation adjustments to the game,” NetEase claimed last month. This included “support for a wider range of models and devices, the highest quality rendering on more models, a lot of experience, network and performance optimisations, and more.
“We believe that the game experience in the official online version will become smoother and bring better game content to everyone.”
Despite launching on time elsewhere, the Chinese delay sent NetEase stock plunging. The game is now expected to launch in the country next week on 25th July.
So far, the Western release of Diablo Immortal appears to have been a financial success, though the game has been plagued by complaints surrounding its monetisation practices.