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NetEase and Activision Blizzard End Their 14-Year Partnership

The companies couldn't agree on collaboration conditions.

Chinese players will not be able to play Blizzard's online games starting from January 23 as the company plans to end its partnership with NetEase after 14 years of working together. Blizzard will suspend most of its games in mainland China, including World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, Warcraft III: Reforged, Overwatch, the StarCraft series, Diablo III, and Heroes of the Storm. Diablo Immortal will remain available as its co-development and publishing are "covered under a separate agreement between the two companies." The upcoming releases for World of Warcraft: Dragonflight, Hearthstone: March of the Lich King, and season 2 of Overwatch 2 will proceed later this year.

"We have put in a great deal of effort and tried with our utmost sincerity to negotiate with Activision Blizzard so that we could continue our collaboration and serve the many dedicated players in China," said William Ding, CEO of NetEase. "However, there were material differences on key terms and we could not reach an agreement. We hold high regard in our product and operational standards and abide by our commitments to Chinese players."

NetEase has published Blizzard games since 2008. According to Bloomberg's sources, "key sticking points to the NetEase extension were ownership of intellectual property and control of the data of millions of players across China."

In August, Bloomberg also reported that the companies canceled the World of Warcraft mobile game that had been in development for 3 years because of financial terms disagreements.

"We’re 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," said Mike Ybarra, president of Blizzard Entertainment. "Their enthusiasm and creativity inspire us, and we are looking for alternatives to bring our games back to players in the future."

Read Blizzard's and NetEase's announcements and don't forget to join our Reddit page and our Telegram channel, follow us on Instagram and Twitter, where we share breakdowns, the latest news, awesome artworks, and more. 

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