Due to a licence issue, Blizzard will stop World of Warcraft in China

Due to a licence issue, Blizzard will stop World of Warcraft in China

According to a press announcement, Blizzard will cease games in China because it cannot reach an agreement with its licence and publishing partner NetEase. After January 23, 2023, World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, Overwatch 2, Starcraft, Heroes of the Storm, Diablo III, and Warcraft III: Reforged will be unavailable in China.

According to the press statement, Blizzard will pause game sales and provide counsel to Chinese gamers “in the coming days.” No precise date was provided. Diablo Immortal development will continue under a separate deal, according to NetEase. According to Blizzard, the next releases will include the newest World of Warcraft expansion, Dragonflight, and the second season of Overwatch 2.

Since 2008, NetEase, China’s second-largest gaming firm, has released games for Blizzard. The collaboration assures that Blizzard’s games adhere to China’s stringent content rules. NetEase is also an Overwatch League franchisee, owning the Shanghai Dragons team. According to Bloomberg, the two businesses couldn’t agree on a contract in August and scrapped a World of Warcraft mobile game.

The issue wasn’t only the financial details of the agreement; who controlled the intellectual property and player data was also disputed, according to Bloomberg, citing unidentified sources.

“We’re immensely grateful for the passion our Chinese community has shown throughout the nearly 20 years we’ve been bringing our games to China,” Blizzard Entertainment president Mike Ybarra stated in a news statement. “We are looking for alternatives to bring our games back to players in the future.”

According to the firm, income from these games  “represented low single digits as a percentage” of NetEase’s overall revenue.