In just a little over a month, Chinese gamers may have fewer choices when it comes to their online gaming experience. According to a press release published last night, the World of Warcraft developer’s licensing agreement with Chinese publisher NetEase is set to expire and a new deal has yet to be reached.
The press releases include a list of every game that, at this point, is scheduled to end services on January 23, 2023. The easier thing is just to say that the mobile game, Diablo Immortal, is not on the chopping block. As it was co-developed with NetEase, the same contract does not apply.
The issue, as is generally the case, is that the two companies cannot reach an agreement on a new deal. As Blizzard puts it, they’ve yet to reach “a deal to renew the agreements that are consistent with Blizzard’s operating principles and commitments to players and employees.” This may be because Blizzard has been adjusting policies over the last year or so and what was fine before is not now.
Interestingly, while this may hurt Blizzard alone, it may not be that big of a deal for Activision Blizzard as a whole. According to the company’s last earnings report estimate, the profits made via Chinese sales through NetEase are about 3% of its total revenue. In fact, Activision Blizzard distributes other games in China through the publisher Tencent. Those games, like Call of Duty, won’t be impacted by this.
While Blizzard’s initial press release makes the ceasing of services sound like a done deal, a follow-up statement from NetEase (translated by WoW Head) makes it sound like they hadn’t been informed it was happening. According to the statement, they’re “very sorry that Activision Blizzard announced the termination of cooperation in advance today”. It also noted they “will have to accept this decision”.
Unofficially, NetEase President Simon Zhu took to their LinkedIn profile and spilled some interesting tea without naming names teasing, "One day, when what has happened behind the scene could be told, developers and gamers will have a whole new level understanding of how much damage a jerk can make."
Note: Activision Blizzard is still under investigation by the state of California for serious harassment charges. CEO Bobby Kotick is alleged to have known about such actions within his company – and performed some himself – and shielded the perpetrators from consequences.
About the Author
QuintLyn is a long-time lover of all things video game related will happily talk about them to anyone that will listen. She began writing about games for various gaming sites a little over ten years ago and has taken on various roles in the games community.
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