Tencent unveil World of Warcraft rival in China as Blizzard’s spat with NetEase continues

A mysterious character holds up a crystal in Tarisland
(Image credit: Tencent)

Against the backdrop of Blizzard’s ongoing spat with its Chinese publisher NetEase hitting new heights in public, Tencent has announced a new MMO that has invited plenty of comparisons to World of Warcraft. 

As you’ll see from the promotional material released so far, Tarisland leans into fantasy, though WoW fans are zeroing in (opens in new tab) on the character and airship design (opens in new tab) alongside several choice shots from cinematics – it’s also been noted (opens in new tab) that one dragon looks a fair bit like Deathwing. The comparisons are mainly down to aesthetics, though some might also find the sight of dragon-riding familiar – mind you, that was in Guild Wars long before World of Warcraft. Regardless, it hasn’t gone unnoticed (opens in new tab) by Blizzard, either. 

While it seems that Tarisland has taken some notes from World of Warcraft, others have noted (opens in new tab) that Blizzard’s MMO didn’t invent most of its concepts and has borrowed plenty from D&D and beyond. You can see it for yourself in the trailer below.

The timing of Tarisland’s reveal is certainly fortuitous, with World of Warcraft due to shutdown in China due to Blizzard’s public fallout with publisher NetEase. Recently, Activision Blizzard reportedly (opens in new tab) claimed to offer NetEase a six-month extension to its contract, calling it a “pity” that the publisher turned it down. 

It was far from a light ‘no’, though, as NetEase then publicly tore down (opens in new tab) an Orc statue that signified its relationship with the developer, doing so publicly while offering a new beverage at its staff cafe called Blizzard Green Tea. As Bloomberg’s Zheping Huang explains (opens in new tab) on Twitter, the play on local slang is far from kind, referring to "a woman who presents herself as innocent and sweet in order to approach guys who she finds useful."

Tarisland is currently undergoing a closed beta and is set to release on PC and mobile. At the time of writing, it isn’t clear if the MMO will make the journey west.

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Deputy News Editor

Iain joins the GamesRadar team as Deputy News Editor following stints at PCGamesN and PocketGamer.Biz, with some freelance for Kotaku UK, RockPaperShotgun, and VG24/7 thrown in for good measure. When not helping Ali run the news team, he can be found digging into communities for stories – the sillier the better. When he isn’t pillaging the depths of Final Fantasy 14 for a swanky new hat, you’ll find him amassing an army of Pokemon plushies.