Blizzard claims NetEase rejected a license extension to keep Chinese games (including WoW) up another six months


When Blizzard and NetEase announced the dissolution of their long-running publishing partnership in China – and the sunset of almost all of Blizzard’s games in the region – back in November, neither company gave a clear explanation for the cause of the breakup. Blizzard suggested the parties couldn’t find a way to reach an agreement “consistent with Blizzard’s operating principles and commitments to players and employees,” while NetEase insisted it had “tried with [its] utmost sincerity to negotiate with Activision Blizzard,” while a NetEase exec trashed an unnamed “jerk” at Blizzard over on Linkedin. And both companies downplayed (absurdly) the impacts on their bottom lines, even as NetEase began layoffs.

Well, now Blizzard China has stepped into the gap to spill a few more drops of tea. The division now claims it proposed a six-month extension of the partnership as late as last week, but NetEase declined. “It is a pity that NetEase is not willing to extend services of our game for another six months on the basis of existing terms as we look for a new partner,” Blizzard’s Chinese group posted on Weibo.

Of course, the shutdown of all the NetEase teams and games is already well underway and will be finalized this coming Monday, so a fresh proposal only a week old was likely far too late and chiefly serves Blizzard’s interests (as it’s Blizzard that still lacks a new partner), and yet it still allows Blizzard to cast blame on NetEase. Of course, it would’ve also allowed Chinese gamers a few more months to play World of Warcraft, Overwatch, and Diablo and potentially eliminated the lapse in play, which is surely why Blizzard posted the slight to Chinese social media in the first place.

Source: Reuters
Activision-Blizzard is considered a controversial gaming company owing to a long string of scandals over the last few years, including the Blitzchung boycott, mass layoffs, labor disputes, and executive pay fiasco. In 2021, the company was sued by California for fostering a work environment rife with sexual harassment and discrimination, the disastrous corporate response to which compounded Blizzard’s ongoing pipeline issues and the widespread perception that its online games are in decline. Multiple state and federal agencies are investigating the company as employees unionize and call for Bobby Kotick’s resignation. As of 2023, the company is being acquired by no less than Microsoft.
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