NetEase, the internet and gaming conglomerate, has postponed the debut of its video game Diablo Immortal in China by three days, just days after the game's official Weibo account was barred from publishing new posts.
According to a tag on the platform, the title's official Weibo account is still "forbidden from posting" as of the time of publication. It is unknown when or if new positions will be reinstated.
NetEase, located in China, did not specify a new release date for the game, but stated on Sunday that it wanted to make changes such as improving the game-play experience and conducting "various optimization tweaks."
The company made no mention of the social media ban in its statement, and it was unclear what prompted the decision.
Diablo Immortal, co-developed by NetEase and Activision Blizzard, is one of the most anticipated games of the year, and its release in China is being eagerly monitored to see how Beijing views the country's US$46 billion video gaming business, which was battered by regulatory limitations last year.
The nod drew notice because the Diablo franchise is about killing demons and witches, elements that are thought to clash with Chinese censors' disdain of violent or religious games.
The social media prohibition was not mentioned in the statement, and it was unclear what prompted the decision. NetEase did not respond to a request for comment from Reuters.
The Asia-Pacific edition of the game will debut on July 8 rather than June 22, as originally planned. According to Appmagic, a system that tracks gaming-app performance, an international version was released two weeks ago and has already made roughly $24 million for the company.
In a separate article on Sunday, the company did not reveal a new launch date for the Chinese edition.
Following a four-year wait since Blizzard Entertainment revealed that a sequel to the internationally recognized Diablo franchise will be produced, the video gaming community has been eagerly anticipating the game. Its first announcement sparked outrage because no PC version was planned, though the company later stated that versions for PC, iOS, and Android devices will be released.
"We consider the debut of Diablo Immortal a huge opportunity to show the world, particularly the Western gaming community, about NetEase's strong [research and development] capability," Charles Zhaoxuan Yang, NetEase's chief financial officer, stated in the company's most recent earnings call in May.
NetEase is expected to get a cut of the game's worldwide income. Last month, it surpassed 15 million subscribers in China, bringing the total number of preregistrations worldwide to 35 million.