Kids love Minecraft, and most parents are happy to let their children play it. In China though, the game has turned into the unlikely target of government censors.

In a WeChat post on Wednesday, China’s anti-porn office said it had summoned representatives from NetEase, which publishes Minecraft in the country. Regulators have also kicked off an investigation on “suspected vulgar and pornographic violations”.

This comes days after state broadcaster CCTV found that some players in Minecraft’s mobile app used sexually suggestive words to name their worlds. One mother said she saw adults using the game to look for underage boys to participate in nude video chats.

Minecraft only arrived in China in 2017, eight years after it was created. (Picture: NetEase)

NetEase has apologized, saying it will better monitor chats and other game content, in addition to taking other measures. But in a country where foreign games are regularly being altered, banned or removed, the news is enough to spook Minecraft fans in China.

On a Minecraft forum on Baidu, users are slamming NetEase for doing a poor job running the game. Some pleaded, “Save Minecraft!” Others say they don’t play the Chinese Minecraft at all, opting instead for the international version run by Microsoft-owned Mojang.

Minecraft’s Chinese version has reached more than 150 million players since it launched in 2017, but it’s far from the cultural phenomenon that it is in the US. Even though the Chinese edition of Minecraft is available for free in app stores, it currently ranks only 488th among free apps in Apple’s App Store. In the US, in contrast, Minecraft is among the top paid iPhone apps even though it costs US$6.99.