Blizzard will disconnect World of Warcraft and other games in China
The partnership between Blizzard and NetEase was established in 2008.
Blizzard will block access to it, failing to reach an agreement with its Chinese distribution partner.
The servers will be disconnected on January 24, the day after the current agreement expires, according to a press release from Blizzard, a division of American video game giant Activision Blizzard – itself in the process of acquisition by the computer juggernaut Microsoft.
The complete list of affected games: World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, Warcraft III: Reforged, the Overwatch games, the Starcraft series, Diablo III and Heroes of the Storm.
It is specified that this decision would not affect the Diablo Immortal game, which is the subject of a separate agreement.
We are looking for solutions to bring these games back to their fans in the future, Blizzard President Mike Ybarra said.
Partnering with NetEase is one way Blizzard is ensuring its games comply Beijing's strict content control.
The company does not give details on the reasons which would explain that the negotiations stumble with NetEase. The two parties have not reached an agreement to renew the contract that would be compatible with the principles of Blizzard and its commitment to players, players and our staff, can we read in the press release.
The press release issued by NetEase uses equally vague terms to explain the nature of the disagreement. The Chinese company assures that this change will have a negligible effect on its own income. On the side of Blizzard, this closes access to a huge market for its most important games.
Blizzard announces that the sale of the games concerned will be suspended in the coming days in China.
Foreign technology companies must deal with a difficult commercial and regulatory environment in China. Last year, the American studio Epic Games withdrew its popular game Fortnite, for example.
With information from Reuters, and The Verge