Blizzard announces its withdrawal from the Chinese market


THE Blizzard Entertainment announced the suspension of most of its activities in China due to the lack of renewal in accordance with the NetEaseyour historic local partner in the largest market in the world.

The studio has been present in China since 2008 thanks to a collaboration with the Chinese internet giant NetEase. The latter did not immediately comment, but its shares fell on the stock market. The current contracts between Blizzard and NetEase run until January 2023.

Here is the company’s statement:

Blizzard Entertainment announced today that it will be suspending most Blizzard game services in mainland China due to the expiration of current licensing agreements with NetEase on January 23, 2023. This relates to World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, Warcraft III: Reforged, Surveillance, the StarCraft franchise, Diablo III and Heroes of the Storm. The co-development and publication of Diablo Immortal is subject to a separate agreement between the two companies.

Blizzard Entertainment has had licensing agreements with NetEase since 2008 covering the publication of these Blizzard titles in China. The two parties have not found common ground consistent with Blizzard’s operating principles and commitments to players and employees, and the agreements are set to expire in January 2023.

We will be suspending further sales over the next few days and Chinese players will receive details on how this will work soon. The next versions of World of Warcraft: Dragonflight, Hearthstone: March of the Lich King and Overwatch Season 2 will be later this year.

“We are extremely grateful for the passion our Chinese community has shown over the nearly 20 years we have brought our games to China through NetEase and other partners”said Mike Ybarra, president of Blizzard Entertainment. “Your enthusiasm and creativity inspire us and we are looking for alternatives to make our games accessible to players in the future.”

Snow storm

Blizzard victim of the imposition of Beijing

As you may know, video games, which represent a major financial gain in China, have been in the crosshairs of the authorities since last year. Thus, restrictions have been imposed on those under 18, with a limit of three hours of weekly training in online games, to fight against addiction among the youngest.

In July 2021, the country froze all authorizations to launch new games for nine months, which weighed heavily on the profitability of the sector. Licensing resumed in April, however, and NetEase experienced a first slippage in September.

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