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  • Kyle Chua

Overwatch 2, WoW, Among Other Games Going Offline in China As NetEase Ends Deal With Blizzard

Chinese players could soon lose access to games like Overwatch 2, Hearthstone and World of Warcraft, with NetEase and Blizzard failing to reach a new cooperation deal.

Credit: CFP via CGTN

The California-based Blizzard Entertainment announced on Thursday, 17 November, that it was unable to reach a deal with NetEase that was “consistent with Blizzard’s operating principles and commitments to players and employees”.


NetEase, meanwhile, said in separate statements that it was unable to agree on key terms of cooperation and that the licensing agreements, which are set to end on 23 January, won’t have a “material impact” on its financial results.


Blizzard's exit from NetEase's stable could lower the Chinese tech giant's revenue by an estimated 6-8% next year, according to Daiwa Capital Markets. The calculation was said to be based on how licensed games account for about 10% of NetEase's total revenue, with Blizzard accounting for between 60% to 80% of licensed games.


"We will continue our promise to serve our players well until the last minute," said NetEase CEO William Ding. "We will make sure our players' data and assets are well protected in all of our games."

World of Warcraft. Credit: Activision Blizzard

The games that will be suspended on the midnight of 24 January include the aforementioned Overwatch 2, Hearthstone and World of Warcraft, along with Warcraft III: Reforged, Diablo III, Heroes of the Storm and the Starcraft series. Sales of these games will also be suspended in the coming days as more details about their future are shared.


Diablo Immortal, however, a free-to-play mobile game co-developed by NetEase and Blizzard, will continue to be available in China as it's under a separate deal.


Many Chinese players lamented the announcement, taking to social media sites to express their sadness, so much so that the announcement became a top trending topic on Weibo, amassing over 100 million views. "I'm so sad. I started playing Blizzard games from 2008... how do I say goodbye," one player wrote.


The announcement marks the end of cooperation between NetEase and Blizzard which started in 2008, more than a decade ago.


Blizzard said it'll continue to pursue ways to bring its games to players in China, though as to how is yet to be disclosed. "We are looking for alternatives to bring our games back to players in the future," said Blizzard President Mike Ybarra.

 
  • Chinese players could soon lose access to games like Overwatch, Hearthstone and World of Warcraft, with NetEase and Blizzard failing to reach a new cooperation deal.

  • The games that will be suspended on the midnight of 24 January also include Warcraft III: Reforged, Diablo III, Heroes of the Storm and the Starcraft series.

  • Diablo Immortal, however, will continue to be available in China as it's under a separate deal.

  • Blizzard said it'll continue to pursue ways to bring its games to players in China, though as to how is yet to be disclosed.

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