Diablo Immortal’s Chinese release may be in jeopardy after NetEase employee criticized Xi Jinping


Last week it was announced that the Chinese release for the controversial mobile game Diablo Immortal has been postponed.

Although developers NetEase stated that the delay was to make optimizations, news recently began circulating that a NetEase employee criticized Xi Jinping on the Chinese social media app Weibu.

This has led Chinese publications and users on the Diablo Immortal subreddit to speculate on the real reason for the game’s delay. See a screencap of the purported post below:

Translation: “Why doesn’t the bear step down?”

According to Chinese publication Radio Free Asia, the post made by a verified NetEase employee criticizing Xi Jinping was quickly taken down and cannot be found on Weibu.

They further clarify why the seemingly benign statement, roughly translated as “Why doesn’t the bear step down?” is a controversial statement in the current Chinese landscape:

A Chinese financial scholar told this station that the word “bear” in Chinese vocabulary and public opinion represents incompetence, cowardice, inefficiency, and frequent mistakes. It is easy to associate it with negative and moral judgments. If “bear” is still associated with “step down”, it means… quitting the political arena, or quitting the current position and resigning, which insinuates the most sensitive nerve of the CCP.

“Stepping down is the most taboo political topic for any local leader or the current top leadership in China. This year he wants to start his third term at the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, so this year’s public opinion environment is even worse… the internet censorship and keyword screening are more sensitive in this regard…”

(Translated from Radio Free Asia)

Although it hasn’t been confirmed that this is the true reason behind Diablo Immortal’s delay, recent events in Chinese politics and the Chinese games industry strongly suggest that this could be a reason for the game’s delay.

If so, there are further implications for the future ability of NetEase, Activision/Blizzard, and Microsoft to release their titles in the massive Chinese market.

When Diablo Immortal was first announced at Blizzcon in 2018, the mobile-focused title received harsh feedback from fans.

One of the reasons why fans speculated the game was even greenlit was to cater to the Chinese market, since it was developed by a Chinese company and the majority of Chinese gamers play mobile games.

In this context, news that it may have been delayed or outright banned because a NetEase employee criticized Xi Jinping is nothing short of hilarious.



Michael Valverde is a freelance writer and editor. His favorite video game is Half-Life.

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