BLIZZARD SUSPENDING GAME SERVICES IN CHINA!
November 17. 2022.
Blizzard announces that China will lose all access to its games as the company fails to reach a new publishing agreement with NetEase.
Blizzard Entertainment games will soon no longer be available in China after the company failed to reach a new publishing agreement with Chinese partner NetEase. Chinese players will soon lose access to World of Warcraft, Starcraft, Warcraft 3: Reforged, Overwatch, Diablo 3, Hearthstone, and Heroes of the Storm.
A statement made by Blizzard Entertainment claims that it could not reach an agreement with Chinese partner NetEase that "is consistent with Blizzard’s operating principles and commitments to players and employees." This shocking announcement may send ripples throughout the gaming industry as a major developer and publisher will no longer be available in one of gaming's biggest markets. Blizzard games will not be pulled from China immediately. Chinese gamers will lose access to Blizzard Entertainment's flagship titles on January 23, 2023. However, new sales are expected to be suspended in the coming days. The remaining content releasing in 2022 will still be available, including Season 2 of Overwatch 2, World of Warcraft: Dragonflight, and Hearthstone: March of the Lich King. Service for Diablo: Immortal will avoid termination because that game has a different licensing agreement with NetEase.
The two companies have worked together since 2008 and have seen massive popularity in the country's gaming landscape over the years. China represents a large portion of Blizzard's active users and losing access to that entire region is a major blow. The press statement released by Blizzard also does not sound positive about a quick resolution of the issues that led to the dissolution of the partnership. There is a long paragraph regarding "forward-looking statements" that aim to play down words like "should," "extend," "future," "anticipates," and many other words that may link any potential future agreement between the two companies.
“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."- Mike Ybarra, President, Blizzard Entertainment
Blizzard Entertainment will be communicating with Chinese players on what their gaming futures will be in the coming days. The Overwatch League has four franchise teams in Chinese cities. The status of the 2021 Champion Shanghai Dragons (operated by NetEase), Hangzhou Spark, Guangzhou Charge, Chengdu Hunters, the Los Angeles Valiant, which is operated by LGE.Huya in China, as well as other Chinese esports entities and players are all in limbo. There is only speculation as to what led to the dissolution of this partnership, but there have been many controversies over the years with Blizzard games and Chinese players or players from neighboring countries. That, as well as the status of Microsoft's impending purchase of Activision Blizzard King and the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic were all mentioned in the press release as things that may have or will affect the partnership between Blizzard and NetEase. In the coming days and months until the current agreement expires, players worldwide will learn how much of a hit Blizzard will take and how Chinese players will respond.
by Bryce L. Jackson