Blizzard has just announced that certain games won't be available in China next year, as their licensing agreements with NetEase are expiring.
Due to expiring licensing agreements with NetEase, many of Blizzard's games will no longer be available in China next year. What happens when Overwatch 2 or World of Warcraft are no longer available in China? A huge market for Blizzard closed just like that... unbelievable.
Blizzard Is Shutting Down Many Games In China
Since 2008, Blizzard Entertainment had a licensing agreement with publisher NetEase for the games World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, Warcraft III, Reforged, Overwatch, the StarCraft series, Diablo III, and Heroes of the Storm, which gave NetEase permission to publish these games in China. Since Diablo Immortal is running under a different agreement with NetEase, it will remain available in China.
Blizzard will be suspending #Overwatch2, WoW, and other game services in China early next year— Overwatch Cavalry (@OverwatchCaval) November 17, 2022
The company is looking for alternatives to bring their games back to players in mainland China though, with their current agreements ending January 23, 2023. pic.twitter.com/3HGWLqCvDK
Since Chinese law requires, that a Chinese company distributes and manages games in their country, international game developers seeking to release their game in China must first secure a licensing agreement with a Chinese company.
The licensing agreements between Blizzard Entertainment and NetEase have been a difficult issue for a long time. But now that their original agreement was expiring, Blizzard and NetEase were unfortunately not able to agree on some important terms of cooperation and have therefore decided to end their partnership in 2023.
Their official license agreement will expire on January 23, and at the same time, the game servers will be shut down and become unavailable to players that are located in China.
What Happens With Blizzard's Games Now
Although a huge number of Blizzards players come from China. The financial impact of the Blizzard and NetEase separation is less dramatic than it seems. In Activision Blizzard's Third Quarter 2022 Financial Results, they shared that the agreement only contributed a small part to the total revenues.
These agreements, which contributed approximately 3% of Activision Blizzard's consolidated net revenues in 2021
However, Chinese fans do not have to lose faith in Blizzard, as they plan to make these games available again in the future. How they want to do it is still a mystery, since they didn't share that with us yet. Maybe there will be a new license partner in the future? We will keep you updated!
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