The Chinese Ministry of Culture has declared Football Manager 2005 a threat to the country's "sovereignty and territorial integrity", claiming to have received "strong protests" from Chinese gamers about the inclusion of the Taipei region of Taiwan, the Hong Kong Macau region and Tibet as separate countries.
That goes against Chinese law, and the government has vowed to "investigate, confiscate and punish" in the case of anybody associated with websites, shops and net cafes who might be distributing Football Manager 2005, or allowing people to play it. Fines could run as high as $3,600 according to reports.
However, publisher SEGA has been quick to step in an attempt to placate the Chinese, arguing that the version of the game in question is the English language product, which "appears to have reached China through piracy or unauthorised means," after reviewing the contents of the Chinese press release with its local partner, Ubisoft.
Given SEGA's commitment to the region - its Shenmue Online title, for example, will be exclusive to China according to current plans - it seems unlikely that it would make such a basic error in releasing a game that contradicted Chinese law, so the theory about pirate versions seems highly likely. Particularly as previous games from Sports Interactive under the Championship Manager banner have been heavily pirated in the Far East.
"To give Chinese consumers the best football management game experience, Football Manager 2005 is being localised into simplified Chinese," the SEGA statement read. And to stop the government whinging about the colour of the sky or whatever else, by the sound of it. "We will follow the correct submission and approval process within China and look forward to feedback from the Chinese authorities on any modifications that may be required," SEGA added.
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