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NetEase chose not to extend its long-standing partnership with the company for another six months.

Chris Kerr, News Editor

January 17, 2023

2 Min Read
A shot of the NetEase office in Hangzhou

Activision Blizzard has confirmed NetEase turned down the chance to extend their partnership for six months after it was announced the two companies would be parting ways.

Earlier today, Reuters reported that Blizzard China had posted a statement on Chinese social network Weibo explaining that NetEase had refused a six month deal that would have allowed the World of Warcraft maker to maintain a presence in the region while it searches for a new partner.

Now, a spokesperson from Activision Blizzard has told Game Developer the publisher did indeed offer NetEase a six month extension, and that the Chinese company spurned the proposal.

The Weibo post, which has also been shared with Game Developer, explains Blizzard will be launching a tool on January 18 that allows players to download their game progress for future use.

"This puts the players’ game history in their own hands for safekeeping until they can upload it again. This tool is available until the day services are suspended," it reads. 

The post also noted that Blizzard has been meeting with "several potential partners" in a bid to continue serving players in China. "We are prioritizing potential partners who will provide players with high-quality, stable game services, build positive communities both in and outside of our games, and who are just as committed to bringing our games back to Chinese players as we are. We will keep you updated on any new developments," it added.

The long goodbye

The impending split between Blizzard and NetEase means that support for titles like World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, Overwatch and more will be suspended in China on January 23, 2023.

The two companies have worked together since 2008 with the aim of bringing some of the U.S. publisher's most popular franchises to players in China.

As for why the two are parting ways now, Blizzard previously said it was unable to renew its deal with NetEase in a way that's consistent with its "operating principles and commitments to players and employees."

NetEase, however, suggested that Blizzard was responsible for the break-up, with the company telling investors that it approached negotiations with "utmost sincerity" but was unable to chart a path forward due to "material differences on key terms."

The Chinese company is also reportedly preparing to disband the Shanghai-based studio tasked with operating Blizzard games in China.

About the Author(s)

Chris Kerr

News Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Game Developer news editor Chris Kerr is an award-winning journalist and reporter with over a decade of experience in the game industry. His byline has appeared in notable print and digital publications including Edge, Stuff, Wireframe, International Business Times, and PocketGamer.biz. Throughout his career, Chris has covered major industry events including GDC, PAX Australia, Gamescom, Paris Games Week, and Develop Brighton. He has featured on the judging panel at The Develop Star Awards on multiple occasions and appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live to discuss breaking news.

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