, the latest expansion to Blizzard's popular MMO World of Warcraft
, will be launched in China next month by that region's game operator NetEase, the two companies jointly announced Tuesday.
World of Warcraft: Cataclysm
will be available in the region on July 12, just over seven months after its release in other parts of the world. The turnaround was substantially faster than that of the prior expansion, Wrath of the Lich King
, which Chinese players had to wait for for nearly two years
"We've always appreciated Chinese gamers' passion and support for World of Warcraft
, and we're excited that they'll soon be able to enjoy all of the great new content this expansion has to offer," said Blizzard CEO and co-founder Mike Morhaime.
The news follows Morhaime's recent admission
that World of Warcraft
experienced a notable subscriber churn following Cataclysm
's release, saying that the game's more experienced players have become more adept at consuming new content quickly, choosing to cancel their subscriptions until new content becomes available. According to Morhaime, Blizzard is "looking at ways to speed up the development process" to create more new content.
Current operator NetEase saw a 47 percent rise in sales
in 2010, which it widely attributes to the success of World of Warcraft
in that region. NetEase took over operation of the game after its previous Chinese provider, The9, lost its rights
Blizzard COO Paul Sams recently told
Gamasutra that the game, now in its seventh year, has "many more years in front of it," despite the company's increased focus on its next MMO, code-named "Titan."