The fate of Blizzard-developed games in China currently sits at a standstill, as NetEase has declined a six-month extension of its publishing agreement with Blizzard, citing unfair and unequal treatment.
Last year it was announced that Blizzard had decided to not renew its deal with NetEase, which has published and localized Blizzard titles for the Chinese market over the last 14 years. Should these two companies fail to come to an agreement–and a new publishing partner is not found before January 23rd–all Blizzard titles in China, including games like World of Warcraft, Overwatch 2, and Hearthstone, will see services turned off on that date.
This fate is appearing more likely, as Blizzard offered NetEase a six-month deal to extend their publishing agreement to avoid disrupting Blizzard’s services–it was swiftly declined. The failure to negotiate has led to both parties blaming the other.
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 China stated on a post to Chinese blogging website Weibo (via Reuters).
NetEase didn’t take this comment lightly, firing back with a statement of its own, claiming Blizzard was seeking a three-year deal with competitors, all while offering NetEase a six-month deal.
“Considering the unequal, unfair, and other conditions attached to the cooperation, the two parties failed to reach an agreement in the end,” a NetEase statement (transcribed via Google Translate) reads. “We believe that Blizzard’s proposal–including today’s sudden statement–is outrageous, inappropriate, and not in line with business logic.”
Shortly after Blizzard and NetEase first announced they would be parting last year, NetEase president of global investment and partnerships Simon Zhu said there was more to the story than meets the eye.
“One day, when what has happened behind the scene[s] could be told, developers and gamers will have a whole new level understanding of how much damage a jerk can make,” Zhu said.
In order to prevent players from losing decades worth of progress in World of Warcraft, Blizzard recently announced it will roll out a new feature that will allow players to download their characters.