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Blizzard Failed to Bargain for A Six-Month Contract Extension to Provide Game Services in China

By Johnson Ge
Jan. 18, 2023 updated 11:10

On January 17th, Blizzard China posted an announcement to its game communities in China. In the announcement, Blizzard China revealed they were in negotiation with NetEase last week, trying to convince them to extend Blizzard’s game operation services in China for six extra months but were rejected. The announcement soon received countless comments, and most of them wrote negatively about Blizzard.

Here is a translation of the announcement:

[Dear World of Warcraft China Server players,

We would like to explain the current status of Blizzard Entertainment’s game services in China through this letter.

We understand that it has been a difficult time for everyone since NetEase released its announcement. No matter where they are from, players are always our first priority. The player’s uncertainty about the future also pains us, the Blizzard employees who have served the China server players for 20 years.

Many of our colleagues are video game players; we met lifetime friends and gained many precious memories from games. We understand how important games are to people. Many  WoW China server players emailed us to share their game experiences and how pained they felt about not being able to play their favorite game. Every email we read touches and saddens us.

The WoW China players’ worry and our personal experiences as players motivated us to have another round of negotiation with NetEase last week. We tried to discuss a 6-month extension of game operation based on our agreement with NetEase in 2019. If accepted, everyone could have kept playing the game undisturbed, and Blizzard could continue to explore a reasonable and long-term development path in China. Unfortunately, NetEase did not accept our proposal to extend the game operation service. Thus, we have to follow NetEase’s announcement and cease game operations in China on January 23rd.

We would like to reaffirm our commitment to the Chinese server players and share the latest information we could provide:

About player’s personal data:

Secure storage for everyone’s game progress, equipment, and beautiful memories are crucial for everyone at Blizzard. We want everyone to feel they are a part of the worlds we created, and we would like to see everyone continue from where they left off. Thus, we hope NetEase can secure all player data as they promised in their end-of-operation announcements.

In order to make players of the WoW China server feel more at ease, besides NetEase’s data storage, Blizzard will provide a new function tomorrow (January 18th).  This will allow WoW players in China to download their personal data. When the China servers are back in operation, players may then upload their data. The function will be available until the game operation ceases, and we will share more details later on Weibo.

About refunds:

According to NetEase’s announcement released on November 17th, 2022, players may refund digital currency they purchased but did not consume, and game time purchased that has not expired. We expect NetEase will open a refund channel soon. Please follow NetEase for further information on refunds.

About the progress of seeking new partners:

We have started talks with multiple potential partners who value players first, as we do. The partner we choose will be the one who can provide stable and high-quality game services, create a positive gaming environment, and bring the game back to China with us. We will update the progress in the future.

Sadly, NetEase is not willing to extend the game operation service for six months based on the agreement, so everyone could keep on gaming while we are finding a new partner. But we will not give up and will do our best for everyone. It is not the end; we will keep on looking for partners in China who share the same beliefs as us.

We will keep you updated as well as we can.

Thank you for reading our letter, and we hope you understand that every Blizzard employee will keep the same heart for all of you.]

A screenshot of the comments showing that most people shared negative views towards Blizzard.A screenshot of the comments showing that most people shared negative views towards Blizzard.

Many accuse Blizzard China of trying to play the victim in the announcement. They believe Blizzard’s announcement is attempting to shift blame to NetEase. Some others shared their thoughts that NetEase has no responsibility to extend the game operation only to meet Blizzard’s own needs. Others have said that Blizzard should have negotiated earlier: the latest news shows that most of the Blizzard game operation team in NetEase had left the company in November. Having a negotiation two weeks before the termination of services does not sound professional to those people.

Source: Blizzard