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Blizzard Entertainment announced that starting early next year, it will suspend game services in China. Its license agreements with Chinese game publisher NetEase expire on January 23, 2023, and according to Blizzard, it will not renew the agreement. The two companies last renewed in 2019.
Blizzard says of its negotiations with NetEase: “The two parties have not reached an agreement to renew the agreements that is consistent with Blizzard’s operating principles and commitments to players and employees.” He has not provided further details, but Bloomberg reports that ownership of player data and intellectual property was one of the sticking points. There has also been tension between Blizzard and the Chinese authorities since the last revamp.
Starting in January, Blizzard will suspend services for World of Warcraft, Warcraft III, Hearthstone, Overwatch 2, Starcraft, Heroes of the Storm, and Diablo III. The two companies partnered in 2008 to publish certain games in China, including the aforementioned titles. He also collaborated on the development of Diablo Immortal, which will not be affected as it is under a separate deal. Blizzard will suspend sales in China in the coming days.
Blizzard President Mike Ybarra expressed Blizzard’s appreciation for the Chinese audience, saying the company is “looking at alternatives to bring our games back to players in the future.” According to a recent report from Newzoo, the Chinese market is no longer growing as fast as it used to be, thanks in part to more restrictive regulations around playing time and new releases.
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