There are some updates to the announcement that most Blizzard games would suspend service in China in January, due to the company and its partner NetEase not being able to reach a contract extension deal.
NetEase president Simon Zhu released a statement on his LinkedIn account (via MMO-Champion) lamenting the upcoming closure, and hinting at tensions that may have led here.
“As a gamer who spent ten thousand hours in the world of Azeroth, starcraft and overwatch, I feel so heartbroken as I will not longer have the access to my account and memories next year.
One day, when what has happened behind the scene could be told, developers and gamers will have a whole new level understanding of how much damage a jerk can make.
Feel terrible for players who lived in those worlds.”
Notably, Diablo Immortal will not be closing down, since this game was developed directly by NetEase under a separate contract. Blizzard and NetEase also recently had a dispute reportedly over contract terms, that led to an entire World of Warcraft mobile title being scrapped.
NetEase, as Shanghai NetEase Network Technology Development Co., Ltd, released a statement on the matter (alsos shared by MMO-Champion), clarifying the details as to what will happen. Service on the affected games, which include World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, Overwatch, StarCraft II, and Diablo III, will start closing to new user signups and additional charges on November 23rd. Then all of these will remain open until January 23rd, running normally with all who have accounts being able to log in and play.
At 12 AM on January 24th 2023, these games will officially shut down and all servers will be closed. Dragonflight will be made available to those who bought it after launch for the remaining window.
“After the game server is closed, all account data and character data in each game (including but not limited to characters, remaining game time, game props, materials, recharge information, etc.) game data will be sealed.” Data will be handled according to local law.
They will also begin to offer refunds for any currency that is left in player accounts at the time of closure.