A Chinese resident offers proof that BioWare, the developer of Star Wars: the Old Republic, has intentionally kept its sci-fi MMO from being accessed
in China due to the country’s notorious reputation for harboring gold sellers and even encouraging unauthorized real-money trading (RMT).
The disappointed poster also dismissed the perception that the game’s unavailability in China is due to government censure, noting how similar games
like Rift, Aion and Guild Wars 2 are all otherwise accessible.
“Since SWTOR’s release in 2011, Chinese gamers have been unable to access SWTOR’s website and patch server. Local gamers in my city of Hangzhou
speculate BioWare is trying to curb gold farmers/phishers,” said forum user iggie on the
As of 2008, there was thought to be 100,000 full-time gold farmers in China, the often underpaid
of an estimated $2
billion dollar RMT industry for virtual currency
. Wealthier Western players are driving most of this demand, who would gladly fork over cash to
avoid grinding Warcraft price
, SWTOR Credits
or any other virtual currency.
Based on his own experience, iggie notes that BioWare has put in place stringent measures to prevent mainland Chinese from purchasing and running the
game. “After ordering on my Canadian credit card via VPN (virtual private network), they revoked my purchase as I tried logging into the website
with my Chinese IP (internet protocol address). From that, my card is now blacklisted on Origin and SWTOR.com.”
iggie further offers a list of supporting evidence that China has been blocked completely from playing Star Wars the Old Republic.
He claims to have attempted to pay for the game via credit card and PayPal payment methods, but both were not accepted. Also, “there was no Chinese
retailer at launch. Accounts logged in from China had preorders cancelled (happened to two others that I met on SWTOR.com).” Chinese players who
somehow get a hold of the client are further prohibited after launching the game with the error message: “You are logged in from a region we do not
allow people to play from.”
In reply, several posters argued that it could be the Chinese government preventing the game due to licensing red tape or objections over content, but
iggie thinks the facts do not add up.
“SWTOR is not on Wikipedia’s mega list of high-profile blocked websites
,” nor any online game for that matter. Most of the websites blocked in the said list
fall under the search, social media or adult categories. Even the king of MMOs, World of Warcraft, did not block its website from being accessed in
China, iggie argues.
“What most people do not know is that during this, a large portion of the players migrated to Taiwanese servers, which remained unaffected. No
websites were blocked; all China did was force the local Chinese company to cease operations by order,” referring to the time when Blizzard got into a protracted tussle with the Chinese
over the release of World of Warcraft’s Wrath of the Lich King expansion.
Now that SWTOR is on the
and in desperate need of subscribers, other posters believe BioWare could consider finally releasing the MMO in China. But others fear the
status quo will remain, if and when its upcoming free-to-play model
succeeds in drawing back players.