Blizzard Entertainment and NetEase Suspending Services in China on January 23, 2023
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Blizzard Entertainment has announced that it will be suspending services in China on January 23, 2023, due to their current licensing agreement expiring with NetEase.
World of Warcraft: Dragonflight, Hearthstone: March of the Lich King, and season 2 of Overwatch 2 will still release in late 2022 but new sales will be suspended very shortly. More details to players will be forthcoming.
NetEase has now issued a response, which you can read
along with our analysis of the situation.
NetEase has issued a
to the Chinese playerbase.
IRVINE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 16, 2022-- Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. announced today that it will be suspending most Blizzard game services in mainland China due to the expiration of the current licensing agreements with NetEase, Inc. on January 23, 2023. This includes World of Warcraft®, Hearthstone®, Warcraft® III: Reforged, Overwatch®, the StarCraft® series, Diablo III®, and Heroes of the Storm®. Diablo Immortal® co-development and publishing is covered under a separate agreement between the two companies.
Blizzard Entertainment has had licensing agreements with NetEase since 2008, covering the publication of these Blizzard titles in China. The two parties have not reached a deal to renew the agreements that is consistent with Blizzard’s operating principles and commitments to players and employees, and the agreements are set to expire in January 2023.
We will suspend new sales in the coming days and Chinese players will be receiving details of how this will work soon. Upcoming releases for World of Warcraft: Dragonflight, Hearthstone: March of the Lich King, and season 2 of Overwatch 2 will proceed later this year.
“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,” said Mike Ybarra, president, Blizzard Entertainment. “Their enthusiasm and creativity inspire us, and we are looking for alternatives to bring our games back to players in the future.”
This disruption was strongly foreshadowed in the recent
Activision Blizzard Third Quarter 2022 Financial Results
from last week:
Currently, we have licensing agreements with a third party covering the publication of several Blizzard titles in China. These agreements, which contributed approximately 3% of Activision Blizzard's consolidated net revenues in 2021, expire in January 2023. We are in discussions regarding the renewal of these agreements, but a mutually-satisfactory deal may not be reached. We continue to see substantial long-term growth opportunities for our business in the country. The co-development and publishing of Diablo Immortal is covered by a separate long-term agreement.
While China does not contribute a significant portion of Activision Blizzard's total revenue, citing it as only 3% of the company's consolidated revenue, it is an important market for Blizzard Entertainment specifically, where World of Warcraft, Diablo, and Hearthstone specifically are much more popular.
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