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Blizzard video games will not be available in China

  January 19, 2023

As of January 23, seven Blizzard video games will not be available in China, including World of Warcraft, Overwatch 2, and Hearthstone. This sad news is due to a disagreement between Blizzard and NetEase.

Blizzard (the studio behind these games) and NetEase (responsible for distribution in China) did not get an agreement to expand their collaboration. NetEase rejected Blizzard’s contract to extend their partnership for another six months.

After failing to reach an agreement, the association comes to an end after 14 years. So, Blizzard games will lose more than a billion players in the coming days.

Blizzard and NetEase were unstoppable

This association has been one of the most lucrative collaborations in the video game industry. But after 14 years of collaboration, it seems it is winding down forever.

NetEase has had some notoriety since its association with Blizzard. As of today, it is the second largest revenue-generating company in China, the world’s biggest market for video games.

On Blizzard’s side, they need to work with a local distributor in China to promote their games. NetEase was a great partner for Blizzard to do this job. Their games succeeded in a different culture and complied with government regulations.

Despite negotiations that began in November, the meetings failed. Blizzard then pointed out the impossibility of an agreement between both parties.

Which games will be affected by the end of negotiations between Blizzard and NetEase?

Starting January 23, 2023, seven major Blizzard games will no longer be available in China.

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

The release of content related to these games will be available until this year. Only Diablo Immortal, has withstood the storm, as it has special treatment. But the second season of Overwatch 2 and World of Warcraft: Dragonflight will not be available.

But, all the time spent playing could be affected by the suspension. So, Blizzard asked its users to download their game data to save their progress.

Possible consequences for Blizzard

It’s impossible to know all the details about the negotiations between both companies. However, it’s not a secret that Simon Zhu, a senior figure at NetEase, posted a shocking message on his LinkedIn about this issue.

There he wrote about the hours wasted in games that will become unavailable and the damage caused by a “particular” person. After seeing this, we would love to have Harry Potter‘s invisibility cloak. It would allow us to go to these kinds of meetings.

If that information is accurate, the business relationship ended very badly.

While we don’t know what really happened, we do know that this could bring financial consequences to Blizzard.

They need a new commercial agreement with another company in China.

Some media estimate that this suspension would impact 3% of the billing. But, this number is misleading since, in other data, the Chinese market contributes 30% of the company’s income.

For our part, we hope that Blizzard finds another partner soon. We wish they could continue distributing its games in China.

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