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Blue Archive's Chinese Server Launch Sparks Controversy with Content Modifications

By Cecil Gao
Jul. 20, 2023 updated 04:02

The anime gacha mobile game, Blue Archive, is gearing up to celebrate its two-and-a-half-year anniversary in July. Since its release in 2021, Blue Archive has unquestionably become a global sensation, amassing a revenue of over 240 million USD and capturing a 6.2% market share in the United States. As the anniversary approaches, the game has exciting news for its Chinese player base, who have been relying on VPNs to access the Japanese server. Blue Archive has officially launched its Chinese server, aiming to provide greater convenience and accessibility to players in China. However, the outcome of this highly anticipated launch fell short of expectations, as the Chinese content audit department made significant changes to the game's content, resulting in a "critical hit that altered everything," as described by long-time players.

Blue Archive’s story unfolds in the near-future metropolis of Kivotos, a sprawling city formed through the amalgamation of numerous academies. These academies exist as mostly independent districts, with the General Student Council functioning as a governing body to oversee their management. However, when the Council's leader mysteriously disappears, the city plunges into crisis, and anarchy ensues. As a teacher and the leader of the Schale, also known as the Independent Federal Investigation Club, players must navigate the intricate web of secrets behind the leader's vanishing act and restore prosperity to Kivotos.

When Blue Archive initially announced its arrival in China, optimism regarding the ability to experience the game's full content without audits was scarce. But as players were guessing which character's artwork would be modified due to sexual content, the final outcome left them dumbfounded: the review department not only altered a batch of character costumes but also completely revamped the core storyline of the game involving students, teachers, and the academy alliance.

Any plotlines and terms related to students and teachers have undergone changes. For example, the Student Council has been modified to the Board of Directors, schools have been changed to organizations, and the Academy Autonomous Zone has been transformed into a Self-Governing District, among other alterations. Schale, led by the players, has also transitioned from being a student organization to a profit-oriented entity operating within the United City. To avoid further complications, the Chinese server version of Blue Archive went ahead and deleted all age references from the student profiles, making all characters adults.

One of the key successes of Blue Archive lies in its exceptional portrayal of the relationship between characters and players. Players are no longer mere background spectators but actively participate in the story, becoming excellent teachers who personally assist the students in overcoming challenges. Many players have fallen in love with this game because, for the first time, they genuinely feel that the in-game characters need their help and guidance. The teacher-student relationship, which serves as a vital factor in maintaining the quality of the storyline, appears to be a necessary condition for Blue Archive's success. This may also explain the anger and confusion among some long-time players, especially those who have spent two years alongside their "students" on other servers.

Additionally, some players expressed their dissatisfaction with the newly added Chinese voice acting in the game, claiming that certain character voices were overly focused on imitating the intonation, tone, and filler words commonly found in Japanese, failing to showcase their unique characteristics and sounding rather stiff and rigid. "Do you want to turn a great game into a pile of garbage? Just try applying for a server in China," commented one player, succinctly summarizing their sentiment towards Blue Archive.

In fact, it's not just Blue Archive; the majority of games brought over from overseas and introduced into the domestic market face varying degrees of criticism. Whether due to the game version lagging behind the international servers by several years or the stringent scrutiny of imported content, establishing a server in China is always a challenging endeavor with often little reward. A few years ago, the massively popular Fate/Grand Order faced intense scrutiny and even drew criticism from China's Central Television.

A character from FGO on CCTV 13, an official Chinese news channelA character from FGO on CCTV 13, an official Chinese news channel

When experiencing these games, veteran players instinctively compare it to the content they previously enjoyed on other servers, while new players worry whether they can catch up to the progress of established international servers or if the revenue from the Chinese server can be sustained in the long run. Blue Archive has actually shown great sincerity in its efforts to enter the Chinese market by providing convenient payment channels and adding full Chinese voice acting. However, after experiencing a series of content alterations and the unfortunate termination of various games, anime game players in China have become less swayed by mere goodwill and are hesitant to continue playing a game that lacks authenticity.

Source: Bilibili Bilibili