According to a report by a Chinese media outlet, US game developer Activision Blizzard has decided to resume cooperation with Chinese game publisher NetEase to return to China after a one-year hiatus.
Some of the most played Blizzard games, including Diablo, World of Warcraft, Overwatch, and others, are coming back to China soon. Several Chinese media outlets have reported that Blizzard Entertainment and NetEase could be entering into a new business arrangement to publish games in China. As per Cailianpress, the corporation has been in talks with many domestic gaming giants, including Tencent, ByteDance, and Bilibili, about the rebirth of its Chinese service and the takeover of its domestic service.
Tencent denied a deal going through, while ByteDance is currently preparing to sell its entire gaming division, making it unlikely that a deal would take place. According to the report, Bilibili’s gaming business is currently not performing up to standard. Ultimately, it appears that the American publisher settled with NetEase when the other deals fell through.
According to reports, both companies declined to comment on the claims, stating that they do not presently have any information or updates to give. Since December 20, World of Warcraft-related material has been progressively added to NetEase Dashen, a community gaming app, according to Southern Metropolis Daily. Furthermore, the app no longer shows earlier news reports on NetEase’s decision to stop running World of Warcraft, hinting at the potential reunion of the two companies.
According to 36Kr, Blizzard and NetEase will need to reassemble their local operations staff and test the new servers once a new agreement is finalized, so the relaunch of Blizzard’s games in China could need to wait for at least six months. After six months, players in China will be able to enjoy titles like Diablo IV, World of Warcraft’s past and future expansions, Overwatch 2, and more.
Activision Blizzard clearing challenges one by one
For Blizzard, 2023 has been a difficult and drawn-out year. The World of Warcraft publisher’s fifteen-year collaboration with NetEase in China came to an end earlier in January when the Chinese servers of Blizzard’s gaming platform were shut down. The planned arrangement was deemed absurd by NetEase, which also claimed that it did not consider the interests of gamers or NetEase itself. Both firms said that they were unable to reach an agreement on conditions.
While Blizzard was closing, it was simultaneously juggling Activision Blizzard’s acquisition by Microsoft, a $68.7 billion transaction that was finally resolved on October 13 after problems with the Federal Trade Commission. And finally, in late 2023, Bobby Kotick, the longtime and contentious CEO of Activision Blizzard, announced his resignation effective December 29 following the company’s acquisition by Microsoft.