Popular Blizzard games have been forced offline in China after NetEase and Blizzard failed to reach a new publishing deal in time. NetEase was Blizzard’s publishing partner in the region. However, the partnership came to an end after Blizzard requested a six-month extension of its contract with NetEase while still negotiating with other publishers on new deals. NetEase disliked that Blizzard was in talks for three-year contracts with other Chinese publishers while trying to get a six-month extension with the current publisher.
As of this morning, Chinese gamers are no longer able to play some of Blizzard’s biggest games. These include the likes of World of Warcraft, Overwatch 2 and Diablo 2 and 3. Diablo Immortal is unaffected by this fallout due to it having a separate publishing deal with NetEase.
Blizzard posted a statement on the official World of Warcraft site blaming NetEase for the issue. The statement read:
We approached NetEase again last week for assistance in exploring a six-month extension of our existing agreement, which is based on terms NetEase has agreed to in 2019, to allow everyone to continue playing without disruption and for Blizzard to continue exploring a reasonable and long-term path forward in the China region. Unfortunately, NetEase did not accept our proposal to extend the existing game service agreement following last week’s extension negotiations.
NetEase followed up with its own statement revealing that Blizzard was unfair with its negotiations while trying to extend the contract with NetEase.
For unknowable reasons, last week Blizzard re-sought NetEase with an offer of a so-called six-month extension of the game service and other conditions, and made it clear that it would not stop continuing negotiations with other potential partners during the contract extension. And as far as we know, Blizzard’s negotiations with other companies during the same period were all based on a three-year contract period. Considering the non-reciprocity, unfairness and other conditions attached to the cooperation, therefore, the parties could not reach an agreement in the end.
The publisher has compared the relationship with Blizzard as similar to “divorce but still try to live together behaviour”. NetEase hasn’t been shy about this statement. In fact, the publisher literally mentioned this divorce behaviour in its press release.
NetEase has further shamed Blizzard by live-streaming the dismantling of its massive Gorehowl statue. The publisher turned the dismantling into a full party and handed out drinks during the event. NetEase named these drinks the “Green Tea Bitch”. This is a slang saying for a person who pretends to be pure only to hide away manipulative tendencies.
Netease dismantled the Warcraft Gorehowl statue in its park and set up a live stream. $NTES rejected Blizzard $ATVI‘s proposal about extending their 14-year partnership for six months to look for a new partner, saying that was non-reciprocal and unfair.https://t.co/Z35BaWer2B pic.twitter.com/lLUb3QsT4W
— CN Wire (@Sino_Market) January 18, 2023
The NetEase and Blizzard partnership spanned 14 years. So the separation did come as a shock to players in China. Many of them believed the company would simply renew the contract. However, due to Blizzard “shopping around” for new publishers, NetEase wasn’t impressed.