Blizzard announces it will not renew licensing deals with NetEase

The company states that services for Blizzard games will soon be suspended in China, including World of Warcraft.
Blizzard Entertainment and NetEase Games logos over a light grey background

Blizzard has announced that it will not be renewing any licensing deals with NetEase regarding the China region. The two companies had partnered back in 2008, and this decision marks the ending of a 14-year-old business relationship.

Related: NetEase launches new studio GPTRACK50 with Hiroyuki Kobayashi at the helm

The renewal of the license partnership was shelved after the sides were unable to agree upon certain elements. Blizzard stated that the deal was not on par with its “operating principles and commitments to players and employees.”

On the other hand, NetEase shared that there were “material differences,” and the net income from Blizzard games was low compared to NetEase’s revenue total. The company made clear that it won’t be economically affected by the expiration of said agreements.

As a result of this expiration, services for Blizzard games will be suspended in the China region, including titles like World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, Warcraft III: Reforged, Overwatch, the StarCraft series, Diablo III, and Heroes of the Storm. The licensing deals are set to expire on January 23, 2023.

CEO of NetEase, William Ding, shared thoughts and feelings about the recent development:

“We have put in a great deal of effort and tried with our utmost sincerity to negotiate with Activision Blizzard so that we could continue our collaboration and serve the many dedicated players in China. However, there were material differences in key terms, and we could not reach an agreement. We hold high regard for our product and operational standards and abide by our commitments to Chinese players.”

“We are honored to have had the privilege of serving our gamers over the past 14 years and have shared many precious moments with them during that time. We will continue our promise to serve our players well until the last minute. We will make sure our players’ data and assets are well protected in all of our games.”

President of Blizzard Entertainment, Mike Ybarra, also made comments:

“We’re immensely grateful for the passion our Chinese community has shown throughout the nearly 20 years we’ve been bringing our games to China through NetEase and other partners. Their enthusiasm and creativity inspire us, and we are looking for alternatives to bring our games back to players in the future.”

The game giants have underlined explicitly that the agreements for Diablo Immortal are separate and will continue. Blizzard also mentioned that it will be discontinuing new sales as soon as possible and will inform gamers in China about how the mechanics will change in the long run.

NEXT: Activision Blizzard Q3 2022 report shows revenue decrease as monthly active user numbers increase

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