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Blizzard Entertainment and NetEase Expected to Renew Partnership

Blizzard Entertainment and NetEase Expected to Renew Partnership

According to the South China Morning Post, Blizzard Entertainment and NetEase are poised to announce a new partnership agreement this Wednesday, signaling a significant return of Blizzard’s popular game titles, including World of Warcraft, to the Chinese market. This development comes after a hiatus of more than a year, following the expiration of their 14-year collaboration which ended amidst contractual disagreements.

The absence of Blizzard’s titles from China, the largest video gaming market by revenue, was felt deeply within the gaming community. The original partnership dissolution led to the discontinuation of services for major titles such as World of Warcraft, Overwatch, Hearthstone, StarCraft, and Diablo III in January 2023. The reported disagreement was over the extension terms of their partnership, with NetEase rejecting Blizzard’s proposal for a six-month extension, labeling it as unfair.

The impending announcement of a renewed partnership marks the end of a period of uncertainty and legal disputes between the two companies. NetEase had initiated lawsuits against Blizzard seeking compensation for costs including refunds to gamers, which were later withdrawn as the companies moved towards resolution.

The negotiation process for the new agreement saw involvement from Microsoft, which acquired Activision Blizzard, Blizzard Entertainment’s parent company, indicating the tech giant’s active role in facilitating the discussions. This move is viewed as a positive step towards reintroducing Blizzard’s portfolio to the Chinese market, albeit with an anticipated delay before the games are accessible to consumers, possibly by this summer.