Blizzard Entertainment’s relationship with China has been always a sore topic, especially considering its response to the Hong Kong protests in 2019. Fans have been vocal about wanting the company to sever its ties with the country, despite China making a large portion of its playerbase. However, a recent development might have just fulfilled fans wishes, whether Blizzard wanted to or not.
Today, Blizzard announced in a press release that it would be suspending its game services in mainland China starting on January 23, 2023, due to the expiration of licensing agreements with NetEase. The games that will be affected by this suspension include World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, Warcraft III: Reforged, Overwatch, the StarCraft series, Diablo III, and Heroes of the Storm. Diablo Immortal will remain unscathed due to the game being under a separate agreement between Blizzard and NetEase.
Blizzard Entertainment And Netease Suspending Game Services In China on Jan 23rd (World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, Warcraft III: Reforged, Overwatch, the StarCraft series, Diablo III, and Heroes of the Storm) https://t.co/F34sFLGbux pic.twitter.com/2gXRXoesEt
— Wario64 (@Wario64) November 17, 2022
Blizzard will also be suspending new sales in the coming days and will inform Chinese players on its practices going forward. However, the future releases for World of Warcraft: Dragonflight, Hearthstone: March of the Lich King, and season 2 of Overwatch 2 will still continue.
“We’re immensely grateful for the passion our Chinese community has shown throughout the nearly 20 years we’ve been bringing our games to China through NetEase and other partners,” said Mike Ybarra, president, Blizzard Entertainment. “Their enthusiasm and creativity inspire us, and we are looking for alternatives to bring our games back to players in the future.”
Blizzard Entertainment has worked closely with NetEase since 2008 as their main partner in bringing their titles for chinese audiences. It is currently unknown how long this suspension will last or if they will ever collaborate in the future. Blizzard will lose a large portion of its player base through this change if nothing is done.