According to information from a Chinese news agency, US developer Activision Blizzard has decided to resume cooperation with Chinese publisher NetEase and re-enter the Chinese market after a year-long break.
A year ago, Activision Blizzard was unable to reach an agreement on a contract renewal with its long-term partner, local representative NetEase, and was forced to close all local servers of its games. NetEase currently refuses to comment on the situation, and Blizzard China says there is no information or update regarding a return to the country yet.
Blizzard had a presence in the Chinese market for 25 years before ending its partnership in 2022, and the shutdown of the servers came as a real shock to local gamers. However, with the acquisition of Blizzard by Microsoft, it seems that they will once again return to their popular games in the Chinese market.
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Blizzard’s best games are ready to return to China again
Some of Blizzard’s most popular games, including Diablo, World of Warcraft, Overwatch and more, will soon return to the Chinese market. According to Chinese media, Blizzard Entertainment and NetEase are currently negotiating a new cooperation agreement to publish games in China. According to Cailianpress, Blizzard is in talks with China’s biggest gaming companies, including Tencent, ByteDance and Bilibili, to revive its Chinese service and control the home market.
Tencent denies the possibility of a deal, while ByteDance is preparing to completely separate itself from its gaming division, reducing the likelihood of an agreement. According to the report, Bilibili’s gaming business is currently not up to standard. Ultimately, it appears that Blizzard has reached a compromise with NetEase after unsuccessful attempts with other options.
Both companies declined to comment, saying they had no further information at this time. According to Southern Metropolis Daily, starting December 20, NetEase Dashen, a gamer communication app, will gradually introduce World of Warcraft-related content. Additionally, the app no longer shows previously published news about NetEase’s decision to end support for World of Warcraft, which could indicate a possible reunion of the two companies.
According to 36Kr, Blizzard and NetEase must reassemble their operations teams and test new servers after signing a new agreement, which could take at least six months. In six months, players in China will once again be able to enjoy games like Diablo IV, the upcoming expansions for World of Warcraft, Overwatch 2 and more.
Activision Blizzard overcomes obstacles step by step
In 2023, Blizzard faced considerable difficulties and challenges. After a fifteen-year partnership with NetEase in China related to the World of Warcraft project, the company had to part ways in January when Blizzard’s servers in China were shut down. The planned agreement was rejected by NetEase, which called it absurd and not taking into account the interests of players or even NetEase itself. Both companies said they could not reach agreement on the terms of cooperation.
At the same time, Blizzard was actively resolving issues related to Microsoft’s $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard. This deal was finally completed on October 13, although there were some issues with the Federal Trade Commission. Finally, at the end of 2023, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick announced his resignation, effective December 29th following the completion of the acquisition by Microsoft.