After the expiration of their licensing deal with NetEase, Blizzard can’t run Chinese servers.
Last November, video game publisher Activision Blizzard announced that they had not managed to secure a license renewal deal with their Chinese server partner, NetEase. It is through this partnership that Blizzard is able to run Chinese servers for their various online games like World of Warcraft and Hearthstone, and without a deal, those servers can’t operate. Sure enough, this week, with the NetEase license expired on Monday, all Chinese servers for Blizzard games unceremoniously shut down, locking players out of their accounts indefinitely.
“When I woke up, I still didn’t want to accept [it],” a user on Chinese Twitter parallel Weibo said this morning. “I cried all night in my sleep because the game went offline. I dreamed that I was crying in the middle of the class.”
Last Tuesday, Blizzard clarified that they are looking for solutions to renew their deal with NetEase, seeking “help in exploring a six-month extension to the current agreement.”
“Unfortunately, after renewed discussions last week, NetEase did not accept our proposal for an extension,” Blizzard said.
NetEase clapped back, saying that Blizzard had hit them with a “sudden statement” and called their proposal “outrageous, inappropriate, and not in line with business logic.”
Millions of Chinese gamers have lost access to World of Warcraft after a furious dispute between US title owner Activision Blizzard and NetEase https://t.co/CvrbvYD0nA
— Bloomberg (@business) January 24, 2023
In lieu of NetEase, Blizzard is researching other potential partners to get the servers back online. “Our commitment to players on mainland China remains strong as we continue to work with Tencent to distribute ‘Call of Duty: Mobile,’ as well as continue active talks with potential partners to resume gameplay for Blizzard’s iconic franchises,” an Activision Blizzard spokesperson told CNN.