World of Warcraft, Overwatch 2 and more Activision Blizzard titles will go dark overseas after a declined deal

Players will lose access to multiple titles on January 23.

Activision Blizzard

Image via Blizzard Entertainment

Games like World of Warcraft and Overwatch 2 will soon become unplayable in China, as Activision Blizzard has claimed that NetEase has declined an offer to extend its publishing deal, meaning multiple titles will be unplayable within the next week.

First reported by Reuters, Blizzard China has said in a statement via Weibo, a Chinese social media platform, that the company contacted NetEase in early January. The hope was to extend its current deal with the publisher for six months, allowing players in the country to continue playing Activision Blizzard titles while the company searched for a new partner. However, Blizzard China claimed NetEase declined the offer, stating, “It is a pity that NetEase is not willing to extend services of our game for another six months based on existing terms as we look for a new partner.” As a result, multiple games will become unplayable in the country from January 23, including Overwatch 2, World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, Warcraft III: Reforged, StarCraft, Diablo III, and Heroes of the Storm. Diablo: Immortal is published under a separate deal and will not be affected.

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The news of this split was first announced back in November 2022, with NetEase president CEO William Ding saying at the time that the company had “put in a great deal of effort and tried with our utmost sincerity to negotiate with Activision Blizzard,” however the pair couldn’t come to an agreement. On the other hand, Activision Blizzard said a deal couldn’t be reached that was “consistent with Blizzard’s operating principles and commitments to players and employees.”

With this 14-year deal ending, it will undoubtedly affect Activision Blizzard’s profits and ultimately see one of the biggest markets in gaming miss out on these titles due to these companies’ differences. Activision Blizzard is currently seeking an alternative partner in China, but given the timeframe, it is unlikely to find one before the current deal expires next week.