A young man plays World of Warcraft in an Internet cafe in Beijing yesterday.
In a rare turf war between regulatory agencies, the Ministry of Culture (MOC) yesterday opened fire on the General Administration of Press and Publications (GAPP), saying its decision to pull the plug on a popular online game was "an act out of bounds".
The firefight broke out after GAPP decided Monday night to suspend its approval of the World of WarCraft online game. The game has more than 1 million players on the Chinese mainland.
In effect, the GAPP decision ran against a State Council circular issued last July that declared the MOC was in charge of regulating the multi-billion dollar online gaming industry.
GAPP had previously overseen the industry.
It has ordered NetEase.com, China's second-largest Internet games operator and the company with the license to run World of WarCraft in China, not to charge users. GAPP has also told the company to power off its servers and refuse to accept new account registrations.
GAPP is responsible for reviewing and approving "publications" and the department contends that online games are a form of "online publication".
The MOC insists online games are within its portfolio.