Wednesday 10 April 2024

Blizzard and NetEase Rekindle Partnership to Revive Beloved Games in China

In a significant turn of events, Blizzard Entertainment and China's gaming powerhouse NetEase have mended fences, reviving some of the most beloved video games for Chinese players. This reconciliation comes 15 months after a licensing disagreement led to the withdrawal of major titles like "Diablo 4" and "World of Warcraft" from one of the world's largest gaming markets.

The rift that emerged in November 2022 saw an array of Blizzard's flagship games, including "Diablo", "World of Warcraft", "Hearthstone", "Overwatch", "Starcraft", and "Heroes of the Storm", leave China in January 2023. The departure was a consequence of the two companies' failure to renew their licensing agreement, leaving millions of Chinese gamers in limbo.

However, on April 10, a joint statement heralded a fresh start for Blizzard and NetEase's partnership. "After continuing discussions over the past year, both Blizzard Entertainment and NetEase are thrilled to align on a path forward to once again support players in mainland China and are proud to reaffirm their commitment to delivering exceptional gaming experiences," announced the companies.

This new agreement reinstates access to a suite of Blizzard's most iconic games under the same terms as the previous arrangement. Fans in China can look forward to diving back into the worlds of "World of Warcraft", "Hearthstone", "Overwatch", "Diablo", and the "Starcraft" and "Warcraft" universes.

Blizzard president Johanna Faries expressed enthusiasm about renewing the partnership with NetEase, recognizing the collaboration's value and the Chinese community's enduring passion for Blizzard games. "We are immensely grateful for the passion the Chinese community has shown for Blizzard games throughout the years, and we are focused on bringing our universes back to players with excellence and dedication," she stated.

Echoing this sentiment, William Ding, CEO of NetEase, celebrated the opportunity to continue serving the unique community forged by their collaborative efforts. "Celebrating our collaborations, we are thrilled to embark on the next chapter, built on trust and mutual respect," Ding added.

Moreover, Xbox head Phil Spencer highlighted the broader implications of returning Blizzard's legendary games to Chinese players, emphasizing the commitment to expanding gaming access globally. "Returning Blizzard’s legendary games to players in China while exploring ways to bring more new titles to Xbox demonstrates our commitment to bringing more games to more players around the world," Spencer said.

The rekindled Blizzard-NetEase partnership marks a pivotal moment for the gaming industry in China, promising the return of some of the most influential video games to a market that has eagerly awaited their comeback. As these beloved titles make their anticipated return, the move not only celebrates the resolution of past disputes but also underscores the enduring appeal of Blizzard's gaming universes among Chinese gamers.