Earlier this week, Blizzard China took to social media to suggest to Chinese World of Warcraft players that NetEase is to blame for the game’s impending shutdown. Now, NetEase is fighting back.
As readers will recall, Activision-Blizzard announced the end of its publishing partnership with NetEase back in November, putting all of its titles (excepting Diablo Immortal) on the chopping block in China. While absurdly insisting the failed partnership was trivial to their respective finances, both companies also found ways to slight the other; Blizzard implied NetEase’s proposals ran contrary to its operating principles, while NetEase implied Blizzard negotiated in bad faith and a NetEase exec pinned the blame on an unnamed Blizzard “jerk.”
Then this week, Blizzard China claimed it had proposed proposed a six-month extension, which 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. As we noted at the time, the games sunset Monday and the teams are already being laid off; the time for negotiation was months ago, not at the last minute, and besides, it’s Blizzard that has yet to find a new partner.
NetEase’s response is brutal.
“Blizzard China issued an updated statement today (January 17, 2023) stating that during this period Blizzard has initiated a search for a new partner. For unknowable reasons, last week Blizzard re-sought NetEase with an offer of a so-called six-month extension of the game service and other conditions, and made it clear that it would not stop continuing negotiations with other potential partners during the contract extension. And as far as we know, Blizzard’s negotiations with other companies during the same period were all based on a three-year contract period. Considering the non-reciprocity, unfairness and other conditions attached to the cooperation, therefore, the parties could not reach an agreement in the end. In our view, Blizzard’s proposal – including today’s surprise announcement – is brash, unseemly and commercially illogical. Its overconfidence does not take into account where players and NetEase have been placed by this kind of demand everything, Riding a mule while looking for a horse, and divorce but still try to live together behavior.”
In the same missive, NetEase casts doubt on Blizzard’s download toolset, which is meant to help WoW players archive their characters, presumably for a future version of the game.
“[W]e are obliged to remind all players, this feature by Blizzard is unilaterally proposed and developed online, without NetEase side testing, use, there may be unknown security risks,” NetEase writes. “If this feature causes loss of virtual property or inability to play, Blizzard shall bear full responsibility.”
Wowhead’s reporting on the ordeal includes two additional tidbits: First, that some Chinese users are already claiming Blizzard’s tool is resulting in corrupted saves, and second, that NetEase apparently dismantled its Blizzard-game offices, livestreaming the takedown of its orc statue and capping it off with a free “Blizzard Green Tea” drink on campus – an unsubtle reference to manipulative and two-faced behavior. Now that’s spilling tea.