Blizzard Entertainment and NetEase Suspending Game Services in China
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker)
Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. announced today that it will be suspending most Blizzard game services in mainland China due to the expiration of the current licensing agreements with NetEase, Inc. on January 23, 2023. This includes World of Warcraft®, Hearthstone®, Warcraft® III: Reforged, Overwatch®, the StarCraft® series, Diablo III®, and Heroes of the Storm®. Diablo Immortal® co-development and publishing is covered under a separate agreement between the two companies.

Blizzard Entertainment has had licensing agreements with NetEase since 2008, covering the publication of these Blizzard titles in China. The two parties have not reached a deal to renew the agreements that is consistent with Blizzard’s operating principles and commitments to players and employees, and the agreements are set to expire in January 2023.

We will suspend new sales in the coming days and Chinese players will be receiving details of how this will work soon. Upcoming releases for World of Warcraft: Dragonflight, Hearthstone: March of the Lich King, and season 2 of Overwatch 2 will proceed later this year.

“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 through NetEase and other partners,” said Mike Ybarra, president, Blizzard Entertainment. “Their enthusiasm and creativity inspire us, and we are looking for alternatives to bring our games back to players in the future.”
This article was originally published in forum thread: Blizzard and NetEase Suspending Game Services in China started by chaud View original post
Comments 60 Comments
  1. Alicianna's Avatar
    I‘m sorry for the Chinese players, because I think they are very passionate about the games.
    The good thing is: I think a lot of decisions made about the games have been heavily influenced by NetEase and the Chinese government.
    And I think a game rooted in western traditions of gaming made to many compromises for my taste.
    You can best see that in the way Diablo Immortal was designed. It’s working extremely well in Asia but it’s not a big deal in the rest of the world.
    Imagine that kind of influence on WoW or Overwatch? Pay-Per-Raid or Pay-Per-Match anyone?
    That deal is gone for good. If Blizzard wants to keep the Chinese Crowd happy they should just license the whole thing and let them have it their way, even if it develops into something completely different.
  1. [Apok]'s Avatar
    If they don't have anything in the pipeline (ten cent) would be my bet) then df will be the shortest 3xp in history for China oof
  1. rogoth's Avatar
    OH NO..........anyway, the sheer levels of sycophancy shown by actiblizz to the chinese market over the last decade or so, and now they will no longer have access to it for their main IPs, what a shame /s, but don't fear! paytowin:immortal is alive and well, so they won't be too hard done by as a result of this.
  1. Drusin's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by mcnally86 View Post
    The Warcraft movie is still the biggest video game movie of all time. Us audiences mostly snubbed it. Most of that money is from China. People seem to want to hide their warcraft love stateside. Chinese fans go hard. I wonder who buys the most merch.
    I don't give a shit about Warcraft as a story/world/lore, I only care about the gameplay so the movie means nothing to me.
  1. LanToaster's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by tomten View Post
    You're not getting the point...
    Chinese has been farming for chinese for the majority... But their profits has been declining and you've seen an insane rise in chinese bot farms on our western regions (hence the video from asmongold about it).
    If they started to migrate more and more before this was even announced (the video is over a year old) what exactly do you think will happen when their entire market and region closes? They will just give up and find something else to do? Or will they all move to our regions? That's the question...
    Not if you could trade gold cross regions...
    I reread your Post, I quoted the Wrong Person, I meant to talk to the People who cheer that the ChinaFarmers will be gone. ^^ Sure, they might Flock to our Servers, but well thats something that needs to be seen.
  1. tomten's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by LanToaster View Post
    I reread your Post, I quoted the Wrong Person, I meant to talk to the People who cheer that the ChinaFarmers will be gone. ^^ Sure, they might Flock to our Servers, but well thats something that needs to be seen.
    Its ok bro
    Nah, i never cheered for it, my question was always will they come here or just disappear. I suspect maybe some will disappear but some people? That's all they know and thats their entire living. They will be forced to adapt and the market and their tools would still work, just bit more effort in a now more crowded market, so less profits.
  1. liyroot's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by sensei View Post
    My money is on Microsoft not wanting to extend the deal because they want to renegotiate or they already have plans for a replacement.
    Totally this. IT WAS BILL!
  1. Kyux's Avatar
    Who do we think Simon Zhu was referring to when he said it was the result of "a jerk"?

    https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update...0020785139712/
  1. Ehrenpanzer's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by JSoup View Post
    How many gold resellers do you think are freaking out right now?
    Imma give you the exact number: 0. What, you thought the main market for Chinese farmers/bots was China?
  1. Le Conceptuel's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Kyux View Post
    Who do we think Simon Zhu was referring to when he said it was the result of "a jerk"?

    https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update...0020785139712/
    Seems like it may be the person who was critical of Xi Jinping, or, depending on Zhu's opinions (which I do not know, and because China, cannot know), Xi himself.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Alicianna View Post
    I‘m sorry for the Chinese players, because I think they are very passionate about the games.
    The good thing is: I think a lot of decisions made about the games have been heavily influenced by NetEase and the Chinese government.
    And I think a game rooted in western traditions of gaming made to many compromises for my taste.
    You can best see that in the way Diablo Immortal was designed. It’s working extremely well in Asia but it’s not a big deal in the rest of the world.
    Imagine that kind of influence on WoW or Overwatch? Pay-Per-Raid or Pay-Per-Match anyone?
    That deal is gone for good. If Blizzard wants to keep the Chinese Crowd happy they should just license the whole thing and let them have it their way, even if it develops into something completely different.
    This is a sentiment I agree with. The loss of the China market may incentivize Blizzard to be more receptive to their shrinking playerbase. Far, far more importantly, this also means Blizzard is less likely to kowtow to China and effectively endorse human rights abuses for profit.

    Still, I feel extremely bad for Chinese players—for one, there's the passion you mentioned, but there's also the fact that these people are effectively living in a modern dystopia. Their experience in life isn't usually very easy. Even if China is far from a backwater and is a modern country, they're still experiencing government censorship and incompetence that makes their lives rather difficult, and I feel like it is very unfortunate that these people have been cut off from something that would be a source of potentially-rare joy for them in a country that is practically the Human equivalent of an ant farm.
  1. ablib's Avatar
    People all over are talking about this. In game chat channels, Discord, etc. I don't understand why anyone in the West would care about this news. So, the Chinese can't play WoW anymore. So what? There's a lot they can't do.
  1. Le Conceptuel's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by ablib View Post
    People all over are talking about this. In game chat channels, Discord, etc. I don't understand why anyone in the West would care about this news. So, the Chinese can't play WoW anymore. So what? There's a lot they can't do.
    Because it is directly relevant to the game and the company that we have some affinity for, for one. For another, some people possess the rudimentary capacity for empathy towards people living in a totalitarian hellhole and wish to express that. On a more immediately-relevant note, it could dramatically impact future development trends.
  1. GUZ's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by mcnally86 View Post
    The Warcraft movie is still the biggest video game movie of all time. Us audiences mostly snubbed it. Most of that money is from China. People seem to want to hide their warcraft love stateside. Chinese fans go hard. I wonder who buys the most merch.

    - - - Updated - - -



    Man, I dislike the Chinese government but I've got nothing against Chinese Warcraft nerds.
    guess you love those annoying bot farms
  1. mcnally86's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by GUZ View Post
    guess you love those annoying bot farms
    I do not understand this comment. Do you think bot farms drove ticket sales? Do you think Chinese only realms being closed means Chinese players can't keep making accounts on US or EU servers? You know bots on your server are ALREADY on your server right?
  1. loras's Avatar
    On the one hand: The gov't there has been trying to crack down on gaming as it regards it as a useless and harmful activity, so that may be involved.

    On the other: Americans have been whining ever more incessantly about hypocritically and inconsistently adhered to "principles" over the past decade or so, so that too may have played its part.

    In the end i feel a little sorry for the chinesr, but perhaps they'll find luck in their country's sovereign strength if the first reason i listed is incorrect, as IP rights in China are subservient to a greater good which is the access to a varied set of such (intellectual properties).
    Practically this may mean that if there is no more legitimate offering of Blizzard games they may just opt to halt their already lax enforcement of its property rights entirely, thus leading to a blooming market of "knock-off" products that may in practice rival or exceed the originals for a softer price.
  1. Breakeridis's Avatar
    And ofc it has nothing to do with politics.... GJ Blizzard GJ USA again
  1. Kaleredar's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by loras View Post
    On the one hand: The gov't there has been trying to crack down on gaming as it regards it as a useless and harmful activity, so that may be involved.

    On the other: Americans have been whining ever more incessantly about hypocritically and inconsistently adhered to "principles" over the past decade or so, so that too may have played its part.

    In the end i feel a little sorry for the chinesr, but perhaps they'll find luck in their country's sovereign strength if the first reason i listed is incorrect, as IP rights in China are subservient to a greater good which is the access to a varied set of such (intellectual properties).
    Practically this may mean that if there is no more legitimate offering of Blizzard games they may just opt to halt their already lax enforcement of its property rights entirely, thus leading to a blooming market of "knock-off" products that may in practice rival or exceed the originals for a softer price.

    The notion "chinese bootleg" being synonymous with poor quality the world-over isn't just a meme for the sake of being a meme. You've a higher opinion of China's knockoff peddlers than... I'm going to say... most.

    Now, I've no doubt that something will fill the void. That's capitalism, after all. That China wants to internalize it and more strictly control it (I doubt that the focus on WoW specifically is actually all that much and it has more to do with larger scale disagreements in marketing/monetization between ActiBlizz and their Chinese distributors, likely in regards to the Chinese government wanting a larger percentage of the sales of Blizzard's products) probably suits them better, seeing as the increased mention of things like same-sex relationships in WoW and OW and other things considered forbidden in China, letting alone things like depictions of skeletons having run afoul of Chinese censors for decades now, would likely bring them into greater and greater conflict with the Chinese censorship board moving forward regardless.

    China seems to be doing an overall sort of "purge" of western media to substitute it with their own; Western films have increasingly reduced or non-existent release dates in China in favor of pushing state-approved Chinese films. A reduction in "western" video games would logically be in the works as well. Of course, one could argue that if Chinese films and Chinese games were so vastly superior they wouldn't need to have western competition repressed by the government but... I digress.

    Honestly, this is probably better for western media products, as it means that creatives don't have to try and hamstring themselves to kowtow to Chinese censorship boards or worry about having to create different cuts of films to adequately placate China. It also means that fewer CGI clusterfuck films like the transformers sequels that underperform in the states but that make a good enough spectacle to Chinese audiences to bring it tickets enough to warrant further nonsense will likely be made (Though to their credit Chinese film-going audiences eventually caught on that the transformers movies were terrible as well and stopped showing up.) Though, like I said, I don't know how much of late this has actually applied to WoW, specifically.
  1. Raisei's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Kaleredar View Post
    The notion "chinese bootleg" being synonymous with poor quality the world-over isn't just a meme for the sake of being a meme. You've a higher opinion of China's knockoff peddlers than... I'm going to say... most.
    I would not be surprised one bit if there is gonna be a knock-off of WoW already in the works. Probably with all the censorship the Goverment can dream of and large helping of party-friendly propaganda baked in. Heck if I was a totalitarian state ruler that has never and will never give a shit a about human rights or copyrights that is what I would do too. You have to fill the minds of the young early with your garbage so that they do not even question it when they grow up.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaleredar View Post
    Now, I've no doubt that something will fill the void. That's capitalism, after all. That China wants to internalize it and more strictly control it (I doubt that the focus on WoW specifically is actually all that much and it has more to do with larger scale disagreements in marketing/monetization between ActiBlizz and their Chinese distributors, likely in regards to the Chinese government wanting a larger percentage of the sales of Blizzard's products) probably suits them better, seeing as the increased mention of things like same-sex relationships in WoW and OW and other things considered forbidden in China, letting alone things like depictions of skeletons having run afoul of Chinese censors for decades now, would likely bring them into greater and greater conflict with the Chinese censorship board moving forward regardless.
    The fact that in the 2020s there is still censorship of same-sex relationships and ... any censorship at all is just unbelievable. And this is by no means just an issue with China, even in the US you have people in elected offices openly wishing to do this... I am glad that Blizzard has decided to give the middle finger to those people. It's the only right thing to do. Maybe in 100 years or so humanity will finally have evolved enough to overcome these medieval prejudices, but I am not convinced.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaleredar View Post
    China seems to be doing an overall sort of "purge" of western media to substitute it with their own; Western films have increasingly reduced or non-existent release dates in China in favor of pushing state-approved Chinese films. A reduction in "western" video games would logically be in the works as well. Of course, one could argue that if Chinese films and Chinese games were so vastly superior they wouldn't need to have western competition repressed by the government but... I digress.
    It's not about superior or inferior or pricing on western products even. Though of course that is the offical reason. The truth is that any totalitarian state needs to limit the information that reaches it's subjects. Propaganda looses it's power considerably if people can just check the validity of it's statements. Of course you always have those subjects that just greedily swallow up every bold-faced lie presented to them simply because they are too lazy or too stupid to check it out. But for non-lazy and non-stupid parts of the population you need to control information.


    Quote Originally Posted by Kaleredar View Post
    Honestly, this is probably better for western media products, as it means that creatives don't have to try and hamstring themselves to kowtow to Chinese censorship boards or worry about having to create different cuts of films to adequately placate China. It also means that fewer CGI clusterfuck films like the transformers sequels that underperform in the states but that make a good enough spectacle to Chinese audiences to bring it tickets enough to warrant further nonsense will likely be made (Though to their credit Chinese film-going audiences eventually caught on that the transformers movies were terrible as well and stopped showing up.) Though, like I said, I don't know how much of late this has actually applied to WoW, specifically.
    "Luckily" the fact that Netease was allowed to alter the game as much as they wanted for chinese censorship meant that the western audience was more or less spared from it, though Blizzard did hold back a lot on the touchy subjects as well, leaving any kind of mention of homosexual relationsships to the books until SLs and even there you only saw it if you did specifically the Night Fae covenant story.
    Something definately changed in the last few years inside Blizzard and I think this change is one of the reasons why they could and would not work with Netease and vice versa.

    I personally feel very sorry for the chinese players and hope that at some point they can say, think and play what they want. Also this is a warning what could happen in every country if it becomes too complacent to look out for people trying to destroy their personal freedoms in a grasp for power. America barely escaped such a fate and it is still open if democracy will survive the immense brain-rotting stupidity spreading there.
  1. craigw's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Slowpoke is a Gamer View Post
    China's what... their biggest market at this point? Maybe second behind Korea? Definitely bigger than NA ever was for them in terms of raw playerbase.

    If this is actually curtains for them in China that's potentially an actual death knell.
    wrong and not even close to reality. the american market from warcraft alone generates more money than all other regions combined.
  1. kaldonis's Avatar
    Good news!

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