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Blizzard suspending game services in China as licensing agreements with NetEase since 2008 ends

The services will end in January 2023.

Blizzard Entertainment, on its official blog, has announced that the services for their games will be suspended in China starting on January 23, 2023, due to the expiration of the licensing agreements with NetEase. Blizzard and NetEase made a licensing agreement back in 2008, which covered the publication of certain Blizzard games in China.

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The blog post claims Blizzard and NetEase could not reach a new agreement before the original licensing expires in January 2023. The games affected by this move include World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, Warcraft III: Reforged, Overwatch, the StarCraft series, Diablo III, and Heroes of the Storm. Blizzard will also suspend all new sales of games within the coming days, and Chinese players will receive further details on how any of the company’s games will work moving forward. Diablo Immortal is excluded from the list of games suspended since that title was co-developed and published under a separate agreement.

Related: Blizzard unveils an amazing World of Warcraft Alexstrasza figure… for $900

The original agreement between Blizzard and NetEase has ended, but it doesn’t mean the two companies won’t be able to create a new deal that extends Blizzard’s licensing. In the post, Blizzard president Mike Ybarra quotes that the company is “looking for alternatives to bring our games back to players in the future.” The upcoming games like World of Warcraft: Dragonflight, Hearthstone: March of the Lich King, and the second season of Overwatch 2 are still planned to release later in the year.

China has one of the world’s largest player bases. The suspension of Blizzard titles in the country will no doubt be a blow to the company’s financial prospects in the early parts of 2023, though it is likely that the corporation will find a new solution as soon as possible. Until then, Chinese players will not be able to play Activision Blizzard games, at least not online.

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Misael Duran
Freelance Writer who's been working with the Gamurs Group since 2019. I have over six years' worth of experience in Journalism and video game writing, having worked for sites like TheGamer, CBR, Pro Game Guides, and IGN.