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Monday, January 30, 2023

No more WoW and Diablo in China: Blizzard games may be offline for good

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Since 23 January, no one in China can play World of Warcraft anymore. The end of the cooperation between Blizzard and Netease leaves fans disappointed.

Now it’s happened: Millions of players are losing access to some of their favourite games. In China, as of 23 January 2023, just about every Blizzard game is offlineand possibly forever. At the very least, the current tensions between the former partner NetEase and Blizzard ensure that the gap between the two major corporations is widening.

Fans are now suffering the most, saying goodbye to their games on Twitter and especially on the Chinese social media platform Weibo.

According to (The Guardian) a user on Weibo even writes about World of Warcraft:

It wasn’t just a game, it was the memories of an entire generation.

For 14 years, Blizzard was active in China. The country is probably the biggest market in gaming and especially the games of the Californian studio enjoyed enormous popularity among the population. Now, however, they will have to completely do without the following titles:

  • World of Warcraft
  • Diablo 3
  • Hearthstone
  • StarCraft 2
  • Warcraft 3: Reforged
  • Heroes of the Storm
  • Overwatch 2

Meanwhile, Diablo Immortal, which was developed in close cooperation with NetEase and therefore has different rules, is not affected by the separation.

Why the separation?

As early as November 2022, Blizzard announced that no agreement had been reached in contract talks to extend the partnership with NetEase. (According to Blizzard), as no deal was possible that would be compatible with their principles and responsibility towards their players. There was also a report in the meantime that NetEase had probably claimed more control over Blizzard’s brands, but this has since been called a false report in a statement (via wowhead) by NetEase.

Unlike in Europe, for example, foreign games in China are subject to strict rules and must meet certain requirements. This includes reaching an agreement with a Chinese publisher. In Blizzard’s case, this was NetEase for 14 years. Since neither an extension with NetEase was reached nor a new publisher found, all these games will now be lost to the Chinese fan community.

Separation turns into mudslinging

What initially felt like a civil separation of two contractual partners has turned into a real mudslinging in the past few days. The trigger for this was, (according to a report by Reuters), Blizzard’s offer to extend the contract for at least another six months. Blizzard wanted to use the time to find another Chinese publisher without depriving gamers of their games.

However, this offer was downright shot down by NetEase. It was called brazen and economically illogical and as if Blizzard wanted to ride a donkey while they looked for a horse Already two months ago, Simon Zhu, president of NetEase, wrote (in a post on LinkedIn) that a dirtyguy was to blame for the misery.

One day, when everything that happened behind the scenes comes to light, developers and players will understand much better how much damage a scumbag can do.

– Simon Zhu

According to some reports, Blizzard’s offices have already been destroyed and the large orc axe in front of NetEase’s offices was also dismantled in an elaborate action, which was even broadcast live by NetEase. In addition, in a NetEase café in Hangzhou, the green tea was allegedly renamed Blizzard Green Tea which in Chinese slang probably also translates to Blizzard Bitch 

This at least leads to the assumption that NetEase in particular has taken this separation anything but well and makes a future cooperation between the two companies increasingly unlikely. The last hope for the Chinese fans is that Blizzard will reach a contract with another Chinese publisher after all.

Age: 31 Origin: Sweden Hobbies: gaming, football, skiing Profession: Online editor, entertainer


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