Blizzard, NetEase partnership suspension to cut Chinese gamers off from WoW, Overwatch, more

This could change Chinese gaming for years to come.

Gamers in China might wake up to the shock of not being able to access certain Activision Blizzard games in the coming months due to the expiration of long-standing, 15-year-old licensing agreements between the Overwatch developers and Chinese PC and mobile gaming company, NetEase.

Games like Overwatch, Diablo, Hearthstone, the Starcraft series, World of Warcraft, and many more wont be accessible from Jan 23, 2023, for players from that region.

Activision Blizzard released a blog post detailing the license expiration and subsequent suspension of their developed games in China on Nov. 16. 

NetEase is one of the largest video game companies around and is responsible for developing a large portion of e-commerce platforms, advertising and email services, and gaming in China.

The Diablo creators had been in business with NetEase since 2008, with the 15-year deal coming to an end early next year. These licensing agreements covered the publication of massive titles in China.

The two parties have not reached a deal to renew the agreements that is consistent with Blizzards operating principles and commitments to players and employees, and the agreements are set to expire in January 2023, the blog post detailed.

Blizzard announced that itd be suspending new sales for Chinese players in the coming days. Titles like Overwatch 2s Season 2, World of Warcraft: Dragonflight, and Hearthstone: March of the Lich King are all on the chopping block. 

Mike Ybarra, president at Blizzard, said Were immensely grateful for the passion our Chinese community has shown throughout the nearly 20 years weve been bringing our games to China through NetEase and other partners. 

There are no more announcements as to what Activision Blizzard’s next moves will be, well just have to wait and see whats in store for players residing in China.

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