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Creative Assembly has sold blood pack in the past with its other games before. This is not exactly a huge surprise. (Picture: Creative Assembly)

Chinese gamers worry Total War: Three Kingdoms might have black or green blood

New DLC adds Mortal Kombat-esque fatalities to Total War: Three Kingdoms

Video gaming
This article originally appeared on ABACUS

Total War: Three Kingdoms will add blood -- A LOT of blood -- to its battles in a new downloadable content pack. But Chinese gamers worry that instead of bloody battles with rivers of red, they might end up seeing lots of black or green blood instead.

Next week, Creative Assembly’s flagship strategy game, inspired by the great Chinese historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, will get DLC called Reign of Blood. It’s a purely cosmetic upgrade adding blood and gore to the game. It’s something they’ve done for every entry in the series, which normally depicts battles without a drop of blood -- but this new pack will introduce Mortal Kombat-esque fatalities to ancient China.

Check out Romance of the Three Kingoms XIII on Amazon

The British-made Total War: Three Kingdoms is hugely popular in China, scooping up the top spot on the bestseller list on Steam days before launch. Its popularity in China propelled Three Kingdoms to become the fastest selling game in Creative Assembly’s history, so much so that the company itself said that China “ has kind-of gone crazy for us”.

Needless to say, Reign of Blood has raised quite some eyebrows in the country. While not everybody is a fan of the blood pack, those who are interested in purchasing (which comes at US$3) worry that they might end up with getting green or black blood rather than red.

Creative Assembly has sold blood pack in the past with its other games before. This is not exactly a huge surprise. (Picture: Creative Assembly)
Why green and black blood? Without a content rating system, China simply doesn’t allow blood and gore in games. To get around censorship, many game developers swap the color of blood in games from red to green or black.

The Chinese version of CS:GO is a prime example of that, as characters in the game have black blood. Another case? PUBG Mobile, where shooting at an enemy results in puffs of green coming from their bodies, instead of the red seen outside China.

And even that apparently wasn’t enough. Tencent recently pulled PUBG Mobile in China, replacing it with a virtually identical game called Game for Peace. In this one, shooting someone results in green lights. And when a player “dies”? Their body doesn’t slump lifelessly to the ground. Instead, pumping an enemy’s body with so many bullets that they lose results in them waving at you before disappearing, as if to make the point that they’re not dead, it’s just a drill.
So in response to the new blood pack in the China-themed Three Kingdoms game, some gamers on Weibo are starting to joke, “Shouldn’t Chinese people’s blood be green or black?”

But will the Total War new blood pack actually be green or black? Well, only time will tell what Chinese censors do. But the good news for Creative Assembly is that many Chinese gamers are playing via the global version of Steam, which isn’t subject to Chinese censorship.

However, that doesn’t prevent Creative Assembly itself from censoring itself for users in China. After all, that’s what Valve did with CS:GO on Steam.

Some even take such sarcasm to the next step, taking a jab at the overly wholesome Game for Peace. Having seen the extremely gory and violent new trailer for Reign of Blood, a Weibo user wrote, “This is what a healthy game looks like. This is not some ‘waving at your enemy as you fall’ baloney.”

For more insights into China tech, sign up for our tech newsletters, subscribe to our Inside China Tech podcast, and download the comprehensive 2019 China Internet Report. Also roam China Tech City, an award-winning interactive digital map at our sister site Abacus.