Blizzard Entertainment announced on its official website, that it will be suspending its game services in mainland China due to the expiration of the current licensing agreements with Chinese gaming company NetEase.
The dissolution of the partnership will directly influence the online services of Blizzard Entertainment’s titles, specifically, World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, StarCraft, Diablo 3, and Heroes of the Storm, which the announcement has said will end all services in the mainland by January 23, 2023.
Having published countless memorable titles during their 14-year-long licensing, the direct reasoning for this severance has been quoted “The two parties have not reached a deal to renew the agreements that are consistent with Blizzard’s operating principles and commitments to players and employees”
▍Statements from Blizzard Entertainment and NetEase
Blizzard Entertainment president Mike Ybarra in the same statement from Wednesday said “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,” noting as well that “Their enthusiasm and creativity inspire us, and we are looking for alternatives to bring our games back to players in the future.”
The conclusion to the 14-year partnership was also confirmed on NetEase’s end as their official channels have reciprocated the ending of the contract. In their own statement, NetEase Chief Executive William Deng said “there were material differences on key terms and we could not reach an agreement.” The statement from the Chinese company has also stated that they will keep their users posted on what will come next, as their services come to an end.
Both company statements have also noted tangentially that the expiration of the agreement does not include the separate long-term agreement governing the publishing and co-development of the title Diablo Immortal, mentioning how the game will continue past January.