Blizzard games to disappear from China after NetEase exit

Blizzard Entertainment is still looking for a new publisher in China. Meanwhile, there have been many personnel changes at... Fragster | 18. January 2023

Blizzard Entertainment is still looking for a new publisher in China. Meanwhile, there have been many personnel changes at NetEase and most of the team in China has already been dissolved.

Blizzard recently reached out to NetEase again to discuss a six-month extension to allow players in China to continue playing uninterrupted until a new publisher is found. However, the two companies could not agree and now the Blizzard games in China are about to end.

No more Blizzard games in China soon

Blizzard Entertainment will shut down all of its video games in China on January 23 after NetEase declined a six-month extension to the original agreement, the developer said in a press release today.

Players are advised to save their game progress and are assured that the company is still looking for a new publisher to bring their games back to China.

A feature to save game progress backups will be rolled out on the live servers tomorrow, allowing players to pick up where they left off. Of course, only if Blizzard finds another publisher to run its games in China again.

The only Blizzard game not affected by this decision is Diablo Immortal, the mobile game powered directly by NetEase under a separate agreement.

No agreement found

Blizzard announced in November that it was ending its 14-year partnership with NetEase, causing a shock to the entire gaming community since the partnership was seen as one of the most lucrative in the video game industry.

The deal between the two companies was about to expire, but Blizzard asked for a six-month extension while it looks for another publisher to continue operating in China. However, the local NetEase team had already been almost completely disbanded. Only a dozen employees remained to provide basic customer service and technical support.

Blizzard’s press release read:

“We reached out to NetEase again last week to seek a six-month extension to our existing agreement…to allow all players to continue playing without disruption and allow Blizzard to continue exploring a sensible and long-term path in the China region. Unfortunately, NetEase did not accept our proposal.”

Negotiations failed due to unfair, strict conditions

NetEase has said that Blizzard reached out to the company last week with an offer to extend the partnership by six months, but also made it clear that it would not stop negotiations with other potential partners.

The company’s statement read:

“Considering the non-reciprocity, unfairness and other strict conditions attached to the cooperation, the parties could not reach an agreement in the end.”

The person who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue said NetEase had proposed structural changes to the partnership that would affect Blizzard’s control over its intellectual property (IP). In its statement late Tuesday night, NetEase said that in its past 14 years as a publishing company, it has never demanded control of intellectual property from Blizzard or other partners.

However, it is still unclear how far these talks have progressed and when players from China will be able to play Blizzard games again.

Photo credit: twitter.com/PlayerIGN