Activision Blizzard just announced that it will be cutting ties with Chinese company NetEase, and thus suspending its games from being playable in China. This will impact games such as Overwatch 2, World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, and many more as soon as January 23rd, 2023, and prevent players from gaining access to these games after this date.
Blizzard Entertainment has had licensing agreements with NetEase since 2008, covering the publication of these Blizzard titles in China. The two parties have not reached a deal to renew the agreements that is consistent with Blizzard’s operating principles and commitments to players and employees, and the agreements are set to expire in January 2023.
We will suspend new sales in the coming days and Chinese players will be receiving details of how this will work soon. Upcoming releases for World of Warcraft: Dragonflight, Hearthstone: March of the Lich King, and season 2 of Overwatch 2 will proceed later this year.
“We’re immensely grateful for the passion our Chinese community has shown throughout the nearly 20 years we’ve been bringing our games to China through NetEase and other partners,” said Mike Ybarra, president, Blizzard Entertainment. “Their enthusiasm and creativity inspire us, and we are looking for alternatives to bring our games back to players in the future.”
As a Chinese player, this may be the most painful day of my gaming career. I love Overwatch and have spent thousands of hours following various ow streamers and owl teams. If no one can take over ow's operations in China, all of these employees may lose their jobs.