Rumors Suggest Blizzard is Returning to China With New NetEase Deal

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Blizzard and NetEase

Rumors Suggest Blizzard is Returning to China With New NetEase Deal

Dhruv Bhatnagar
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Highlights
Rumors suggest publisher NetEase will soon announce the official return of Blizzard to China by the end of March or early April.
The revival of Blizzard's partnership with NetEase will allow the US developer to return to one of the world's largest gaming markets.

In November 2022, Blizzard announced that most of its game services would be taken down in China, as its licensing agreements with NetEase were expiring with no new deals in place. Chinese gamers bid goodbye to their favorite Blizzard titles on 23rd January 2023, and it seemed like they'd never experience them again. 

However, new reports suggest that Blizzard and NetEase are allegedly planning to announce the restoration of their partnership in the upcoming weeks. If the rumors are to be believed, Blizzard can restore access to its popular titles, such as World of Warcraft and Hearthstone, in China via NetEase this year as early as April. 

Blizzard Plans to Restore Partnership With NetEase

According to a report by Core Esports, NetEase will officially announce Blizzard Games' return to China at the end of March or the beginning of April. NetEase is the technology company in China that allowed Blizzard Games to operate in the country for more than 14 years prior to the failed negotiations between both parties in 2022. Due to China's media policies, games developed outside of the country must be run through local technologies such as NetEase.

The Chinese company's licensing agreements with Blizzard expired on 23rd January 2023. This led to the suspension of game services for World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, Overwatch 2, and others in mainland China. 

Rumors Suggest Blizzard is Returning to China With New NetEase Deal

Blizzard and NetEase

Core Esports claimed that the former Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick was the primary reason why neither company couldn't hold a partnership. Right after Kotick's departure in December 2023, all lawsuits between both parties were dropped, allowing them to start negotiations. Additionally, Microsoft's acquisition of Blizzard has also helped restore this bridge, as NetEase already works with the technology giant to develop popular titles such as Minecraft in China. 

Previously, @Nico_oq, a trusted Blizzard news source in Asia, reported that an unnamed Korean Company was all set to host Blizzard's titles in China via a leasing agreement. It's still unknown if these rumors were false, the deal fell through, or it led to the rumored revival of  Blizzard and NetEase’s partnership.

It's a known fact that the player base for Blizzard's games in China is quite substantial. With the added value of its gaming IP, NetEase has a good chance of securing the right to develop mobile versions of Blizzard's popular titles if the pair resumes collaboration. However, it's crucial to keep in mind that these rumors haven't been confirmed yet. Although the reports come from a trusted source, there's nothing guaranteed until Blizzard or NetEase officially announces a confirmation of the deal. If the deal ends up happening, Chinese gamers will be able to enjoy Blizzard titles as early as April. 


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