Overwatch 2 and Other Blizzard Games Shall Be Unavailable to China from Jan 2023
Blizzard Entertainment is set to shut down their gaming services in China after their licensing agreements expire with Chinese company NetEase. This means that gamers in China won’t be able to access some of Blizzard’s biggest titles including Overwatch, World of Warcraft, Diablo and Hearthstone from 23rd January, 2023. However, Diablo Immortal will continue to be available in the region thanks to co-development and publishing under a separate agreement between the two companies.
Blizzard lets the license lapse after ‘not reaching a deal’ with NetEase
In a blog post released yesterday, Activision Blizzard talked about the license expiration and suspension of gaming services in China. Blizzard said, “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.”
Mike Ybarra, President at Blizzard Entertainment, said they are, “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.” He also said, “Their enthusiasm and creativity inspire us, and we are looking for alternatives to bring our games back to players in the future.”
Blizzard is set to suspend new sales in the ‘coming days’ with Chinese players 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 also be delayed till later in the year.
NetEase is one of the largest internet and gaming companies in China operating online PC and mobile games, advertising services, email services, and e-commerce platforms in the country. The company has partnered with Blizzard since 2008 to host Chinese versions of their games in the region. The deal falling through marks the end of a 15-year partnership between the two companies. It is still unclear how Blizzard will continue providing their services to Chinese players.