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NetEase and Blizzard Issued Statements on Suspending Most Blizzard Game Services in China

By Weilin Li
Nov. 17, 2022 updated 06:55

Blizzard Entertainment said in a statement on November 16 that it will suspend most of its Blizzard game services in China due to the expiration of the current licensing agreement with NetEase. The relevant services will be terminated on January 23, 2023.

In response to this statement, NetEase made an announcement on November 17. The developer thanked the "continuous support and love for Blizzard game products."

“We are honored to have worked together with you for 14 years to create and share an unforgettable gaming experience. Once again, we would like to express our most heartfelt thanks to everyone!

Due to the impending expiration of our agreement with our partner Blizzard Entertainment, World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, Overwatch, Diablo III, StarCraft II, Warcraft III: Reforged, and Heroes of the Storm, which are the games operated by Shanghai Netzhiyi Network Technology Development Co., Ltd. in mainland China, will be terminated at 0:00 on January 24, 2023.

NetEase went on to announce that “Beginning November 23, 2022, the purchasing service and user registration portal of Blizzard game services on Battle.net and the client will be closed.”

Chinese players responded quickly to these two statements with humor and frustration. Some of them joked that the game forum NGA could be the next Blizzard games license receiver.

“NGA can be the next license holder.” “Shouldn’t be a lot of money.” “200 something million dollars”“NGA can be the next license holder.” “Shouldn’t be a lot of money.” “200 something million dollars”

“Then I can’t play the game I bought? The pirated game is safer. I don’t have to worry about this issue.”“Then I can’t play the game I bought? The pirated game is safer. I don’t have to worry about this issue.”

In the meantime, a screenshot of Simon Zhu, President, Global Investment and Partnership of NetEase Games, is trending online. He said on LinkedIn as a response to the cooperation termination.

”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.”

A screenshot of Simon Zhu, President, Global Investment and Partnership of NetEase GamesA screenshot of Simon Zhu, President, Global Investment and Partnership of NetEase Games

The stock shares of NetEase fell nearly 15% in response to the news.

According to the regulations of China's online game management, an approved online game must go through the approval formalities again when changing the operator.

Before the new approval is obtained, the online game shall stop all operation services, and the violators shall be treated as illegal online publishing.