The majority of Blizzard’s games, including Overwatch 2, WOW, and other worldwide blockbusters, will be suspended in China owing to the termination of license arrangements with NetEase.
Since 2008, license agreements between Blizzard Entertainment and NetEase have covered the distribution of various Blizzard games in China. The ongoing agreement is slated to expire in January 2023 since both parties have not come to an agreement to extend them.
OverWatch 2, WOW, and other Blizzard games will be suspended in January next year
An agreement is required by Chinese regulations, therefore if one is not made, there won’t be any games distributed or operated in China. Soon, Chinese users won’t be able to play World of Warcraft, Starcraft, Warcraft 3: Reforged, Overwatch 2, Diablo 3, and Hearthstone. However, as Diablo: Immortal has a separate licensing arrangement with NetEase, the service won’t be terminated.
Moreover, in the “coming days,” Blizzard will stop selling new copies of its games in China, and “Chinese gamers will be receiving specifics on how this will operate soon,” the company says.
With regard to the future of their games in China, Mike Ybarra, president of Blizzard Entertainment, said, “We’re really appreciative for the dedication our Chinese audience has exhibited throughout the almost 20 years we’ve been bringing our games to China through NetEase and other partners.”
He added,” We are looking for ways to bring our games back to players in the future because of their enthusiasm and creativity.” As a result, there is a chance that Blizzard will negotiate with other distributors or find alternative ways. But even then, it won’t happen soon because the company announced the game’s suspension in China in January 2023.
The decision has been made at a time when a bright spot is emerging in China’s gaming sector, which has suffered from strict rules over the past few years. Let’s wait and see what Blizzard has in store for the future of its games in China.