Published in Gaming

Blizzard games go offline in China

by on25 January 2023

It appears that everyone was expecting this

Blizzard games has gone the way of the dodo in China after the US giant failed to renew licensing agreements with local partner NetEase.

This had been expected since November when Blizzard announced its agreement with NetEase that allowed it to publish games in mainland China since 2008 would expire on January 23, 2023, after the two parties failed to reach a deal to renew the license. Blizzard at the time said it could not come to an agreement consistent with its "operating principles and commitments to players and employees."

Blizzard last month tried to extend the deal by six months so players could keep accessing its games while it searched for a new publishing partner, but a translation of a Blizzard post on World of Warcraft site Wowhead revealed that NetEase said no.

NetEase responded to Blizzard's claims saying that Blizzard normally demanded three year contracts so a six-month extension of the game service and other conditions, and made it clear that it would not stop continuing negotiations with other potential partners during the contract extension.

"Considering the non-reciprocity, unfairness and other conditions attached to the cooperation, therefore, the parties could not reach an agreement in the end," the company said.

NetEase also accused Blizzard of trying to take advantage of the company, comparing its behavior to getting divorced but still trying to live together. NetEase staff were recently filmed dismantling a Warcraft Gorehowl statue in its park which suggests the divorce is messy.

Blizzard insists that deactivating its servers in China does not mean players in the country will be permanently cut off from its games; rather, this is a "temporary unhappy suspension."

The company remains in talks with "several potential partners who share our values" so Blizzard titles can return to China. It's even advised players that their saved game data will be restored when the games become accessible again.


Last modified on 25 January 2023
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