Blizzard and NetEase were in the process of re-upping their agreement that sees the latter operate many of the MMO developers' titles in China. However, as alluded to in the recent financial disclosures last week, Blizzard announced this evening that it and NetEase are suspending services to its games in China.
The press release by Blizzard tonight details the games affected, saying that service for World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, Warcraft III: Reforged, Overwatch, Starcraft, Diablo III and even Heroes of the Storm will cease to operate in the market on January 23rd, 2023. This is when the current agreement which has seen NetEase publish Blizzard's titles in China since 2008 will expire.
We knew that the two sides could not find a deal that was beneficial to both thanks to a disclosure in the most recent third-quarter financial report by Activision Blizzard, but this is the confirmation that it won't happen in time.
As such, Blizzard and NetEase will suspend sales of these titles in China, with more information for its Chinese audience soon. Bloomberg is reporting that part of the breakdown might be over how the IP and player data are owned, according to their sources.
Diablo Immortal, Blizzard's free-to-play mobile and PC title released earlier this year, is unaffected as this title is under a separate agreement.
Blizzard's president Mike Ybarra says in the press release that the company is "looking for alternatives" to get these games back into the market.
This isn't the first bad news between the two companies this year, as back in August we reported that Blizzard and NetEase also canceled an in-development mobile World of Warcraft MMO. That too was canceled thanks to a disagreement over terms, much like this current situation.