Most Blizzard games, including World of Warcraft, have been suspended in China


Briefly: Gamers in China will soon take another hit after Blizzard said it plans to suspend some of its biggest titles in the country after it failed to renew licensing agreements with partner NetEase.

It was those agreements with NetEase that enabled Blizzard to publish its games in mainland China since 2008. But the company announced that they would expire on January 23, 2023, and the two parties could not reach a deal to renew the license. Blizzard said it could not reach an agreement consistent with its “operating principles and obligations to players and employees”.

Blizzard said in its press release that it will suspend the sale of its games in China in the coming days, with most online gaming services suspended in the country as of January 23rd. Dubbed World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, Warcraft III: Reforged, Overwatch, StarCraft series, Diablo III and Heroes of the Storm, which are very popular in China, such as affected. However, the company added that upcoming releases of World of Warcraft: Dragonflight, Hearthstone: March of the Lich King, and Season 2 of Overwatch 2 will continue later this year.

NetEase said development of Diablo Immortal will continue as it was jointly developed by China’s Tencent and is covered by a separate licensing agreement. The Chinese company added that games accounted for a low single-digit percentage of its total revenue and profits. China contributed at least 3% of Activision’s net revenue in 2022.

bloomberg Writes It wasn’t just the financial terms that ruined the deal. It was also the intellectual property ownership and control over the data of millions of players across China – the latter a point of contention in light of escalating tensions between the US and China.

Despite the popularity of video/mobile games in China, they face intense government scrutiny. Pause in licensing games that lasted more than nine months only Ended in Apriland China has rules prohibiting people under the age of 18 from playing online games more than three hours every week.



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