January 30, 2023

Blizzard China: Millions of players lose access to ‘World of Warcraft’ and other games as it goes dark

3 min read

Hong Kong

Millions of players in China have lost access to the popular “World of Warcraft” franchise and other popular video games, as Blizzard Entertainment’s servers in the country went offline after two decades.

Following a licensing deal with longtime local partner NetEase, the company’s services in China were suspended at midnight local time on Tuesday, marking the end of an era for fans.


“World of Warcraft,” Also known as “WoW”, is an extremely popular online multiplayer game that allows users to battle monsters and travel through campaigns in the medieval world of Azeroth.

Many gamers around the world grew up with the smash hit, including in China. This was underscored in recent days, as Chinese fans expressed disbelief at the loss of their longtime pastime in social media posts.

“When I woke up, I still didn’t want to accept. [it]”A user said Tuesday on China’s Twitter-like platform Weibo. “I cried myself to sleep the whole night because the game went offline. I dreamed I was crying in the middle of class.

Another player described “World of Warcraft” as “My First Love”.

“I really can’t forget it,” he wrote.

The suspension follows a bitter dispute between Blizzard’s unit, Blizzard.

and NetEase.

Foreign publishers should work with local partners to offer video games in China. Last November, however, Blizzard and NetEase announced They will not renew licensing agreements that were set to expire this month.

The deals covered the publishing of several popular Blizzard titles in mainland China, including “World of Warcraft,” “Hearthstone,” and “Diablo III” since 2008. A new agreement on key terms, without giving further details.

Now it seems the talks have gotten tougher.

In a ___ Statement Last Tuesday, Blizzard said it had contacted NetEase to seek “their assistance in seeking a six-month extension to the current contract.”

The US company said it appealed to NetEase to allow fans to continue playing uninterrupted, “based on our personal feelings as gamers and the frustration shown to us by Chinese players.”

“Unfortunately, after renewed discussions last week, NetEase did not accept our proposal for an extension,” Blizzard said.

NetEase hit back with this one Your statement Previous Week.

In unusually bitter comments, the Chinese tech and gaming giant accused Blizzard of turning a blind eye with its “sudden statement” and called the US company’s proposal “outrageous, inappropriate, and not in line with business logic.” gave

NetEase also pointed out that Blizzard has already “started looking for new partners” in China, putting the Hangzhou-based company in an “unfair” position.

People visit Blizzard Entertainment's 'World of Warcraft' during an expo in Shanghai in October 2018.

The public spat marked an unexpected turn in the companies’ 14-year partnership.

Under a separate agreement, the companies are working together on the joint development and publication of “Diablo Immortal,” another widely followed multiplayer game that allows users to slay demons in an ancient world. NetEase said in a statement November That this cooperation will continue.

Snowstorm “World of Warcraft” fans will be able to, it said in December. Backup His play history and make sure all progress is saved as he ends his contract and looks for a new partner.

This week’s shutdown was emotional, even for NetEase’s senior leadership.

In a ___ LinkedIn post On Monday, NetEase Games president of global investments and partnerships Simon Zhou detailed how he grew up with Blizzard games in China, including the old “Warcraft” and “Diablo” titles.

“Only [a] A few hours before Blizzard Games servers shut down in China, and this is a big deal for players in China,” he wrote.

“It’s a sad moment to witness the server shutdown today, and we don’t know how things will play out in the future. The biggest victims will be the players in China who live and breathe these worlds.

Activision Blizzard, which had another Chinese partner before teaming up with NetEase, said it continues to look for a new distribution partner.

“Our commitment to the players on mainland China remains intact. An Activision Blizzard spokesperson told CNN that we are working with Tencent to distribute ‘Call of Duty: Mobile’ and are in active discussions with potential partners to reboot gameplay for popular Blizzard franchises. Strong enough to carry on.

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