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Published: January 19, 2023

Written by: Isabella Aslam

  • Blizzard is temporarily pulling out its games from China
  • Its contract with its distributing partner NetEase ended recently
  • NetEase’s local operating team had been disbanded a few days prior

Having been denied a contract extension by its main distribution partner, Blizzard is forced to temporarily leave China while it’s currently looking for a new publisher.

Blizzard Denied Extention

When it comes to video game sales, China has often been somewhat of a difficult place to work with. The country often has very strict regulations when it comes to the distribution of video games and sometimes even very well-established companies have difficulties selling their products.

This also extends to Blizzard, who recently announced it is suspending all its video games in mainland China on January 23. In a press release, the company said the main reason for this decision is the denial of NetEase to a six-month extension of its initial agreement. NetEase is a Chinese Internet technology company providing online services centered on content, community, communications, and commerce. It was Blizzard’s main partner in the country, so it makes sense that Blizzard is pulling out when its partnership is now void.

The company will move out of China in about a week while it is currently looking for a new publisher to renew activities in the country. Blizzard recommended players from the country save their game progress while the company is looking for a new partner. The only exception to this latest decision is Diablo Immortal, as the mobile title is directly operated by NetEase under a different agreement.

Why Was There No Deal?

In their press release, Blizzard explained they tried everything in their power to sign a deal with NetEase, but to no avail. “We approached NetEase again last week for assistance in exploring a six-month extension of our existing agreement … to allow everyone to continue playing without disruption and for Blizzard to continue exploring a reasonable and long-term path forward in the China region,” a translation by Wowhead reads. “Unfortunately, NetEase did not accept our proposal.”

Perhaps this has to have been foreseen by Blizzard as the deal between them and NetEase was already coming to an end. Blizzard had asked for an extension while looking for another publisher to continue operating in China. However, NetEase’s local operating team was already disbanded just a few days prior to Blizzard’s press release. 

All of Blizzard’s games will receive a feature for making game progress backups so players can start where they stopped playing when Blizzard finds another publisher to operate its games again in the country. The company has stated that it’s already in talks with potential new partners, saying that it aims to “create a positive gaming environment both inside and outside of the game, and work with us to bring our games back to our players in China,” according to Wowhead.

It’s still unknown when more information about these discussions will be released.

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