China's NetEase says relaunch of key game delayed

SHANGHAI, July 1 (Reuters) - Inc NTES.O, China's No. 2 online games operator, said the China relaunch of the popular World of Warcraft computer game would be delayed due to what it said were factors out of its control.

NetEase in April won the licence to host the lucrative online role-playing game, developed by Blizzard Entertainment, in China.

It was supposed to relaunch the game at the end of June.

But in statements late on Tuesday, NetEase said it could not give a timeframe for the relaunch and noted that a prolonged delay could affect its profits from the game.

A spokesman for the firm declined to comment.

“We have met with some factors which are out of our control, the servers reopening will be delayed,” the firm said in a posting on its World of Warcraft website,

“As of now, we don’t have a specific reopening timeframe.”

In an SEC filing on Tuesday, the firm said the relaunch was subject to the receipt of necessary governmental approvals and that if the relaunch was significantly delayed, the game’s popularity and profitability may be adversely affected.

China has the world's fastest growing online game market, with more than 55 million online gamers. The firm's Nasdaq-traded shares have climbed 14.2 percent since it announced it had won the hosting licence from The9 Ltd NCTY.O, but NetEase shares fell 2.17 percent in U.S. trade on Tuesday. (Reporting by Melanie Lee; Editing by Ken Wills)