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World of Warcraft to go offline in China as Activision Blizzard and NetEase end 14-year deal

Activision Blizzard deal with NetEase ended but is now being brought by Mircosoft.

The 14-year licensing arrangement between Activision Blizzard and the Chinese gaming company NetEase is coming to an end. As a result, popular game titles like World of Warcraft and Overwatch will no longer be available in China.

World of Warcraft to go offline in China as Activision Blizzard and NetEase end 14-year deal

The two companies were unable to reach an agreement on renewal conditions, thus the original contract, which was first signed in August 2008, will now end in January 2023. The massively multiplayer online game World of Warcraft is very well-liked in China.

On Thursday, NetEase’s Hong Kong-listed shares fell 9%. Blizzard and NetEase had “substantial disputes on crucial parameters,” according to a statement from NetEase CEO William Ding.

“We are honored to have had the privilege of serving our gamers over the past 14 years and have shared many precious moments with them during that time,” Ding said. “We will continue our promise to serve our players well until the last minute. We will make sure our players’ data and assets are well protected in all of our games.”

World of Warcraft to go offline in China as Activision Blizzard and NetEase end 14-year deal

This implies that popular franchise games like World of Warcraft, StarCraft, Hearthstone, Overwatch, and Diablo won’t be available to Chinese gamers after Microsoft’s $69 billion purchase of Activision Blizzard.

In the “coming days,” Blizzard warned, new game sales will stop in mainland China. It also stated that later this year’s upcoming releases for World of Warcraft: Dragonflight, Hearthstone: March of the Lich King, and season 2 of Overwatch 2 would go normally. Due to a separate arrangement between the companies, the publication of the highly anticipated mobile and PC game Diablo Immortal in China would not be impacted.

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