In December we reported on how Chinese language gamers had been being ready for the top of World of Warcraft (opens in new tab), with Blizzard’s 14-year publishing settlement with NetEase drawing to a detailed. All new gross sales of Blizzard video games within the area have been suspended since late final yr and, whereas Blizzard promised to discover a resolution for save transfers, the continued operation of its video games requires discovering a brand new Chinese language publishing accomplice.
It now appears inevitable that Blizzard’s video games in China will stop to operate on January 23 when its present deal runs out, after NetEase turned down a proposed six month extension below the present phrases. Blizzard China stated on the Chinese language microblogging website Weibo (via Reuters (opens in new tab)) that it had contacted NetEase final week concerning the extension, however been turned down:
“It’s a pity that NetEase will not be prepared to increase companies of our sport for an additional six months on the idea of current phrases as we search for a brand new accomplice,” stated the assertion.
NetEase, an organization that in its early days was constructed on the success of its licensed Blizzard video games, has made no remark. The writer’s boss William Ding stated final yr “there have been materials variations on key phrases” between the businesses.
This has a wider context than simply Blizzard and NetEase: All videogames require a Chinese language writer and authorities licenses to function within the area, and the Chinese language Communist Get together (CCP) has began paying more and more shut consideration to the content material of international titles. On high of that, in 2021 the CCP restricted the period of time kids can spend enjoying video games to at least one hour a day on Fridays, weekends and holidays. Which isn’t the best scenario for a raiding occasion.
Whether or not Blizzard will have the ability to discover one other publishing accomplice within the area stays to be seen, and there is no signal but of the promised resolution for gamers’ saves (although if the video games aren’t coming again, perhaps that is a moot level). The writer’s video games have at all times been vastly common in China, and also you’d suppose cash would speak, however the unknowable ingredient right here is whether or not issues merely fell aside with NetEase or if Blizzard is being squeezed-out of the Chinese language market as a part of a wider pattern.
I’ve contacted Blizzard to ask concerning the scenario, the save transfers, and whether or not it expects its video games to return to operation in China, and can replace with any response.