Blizzard-owned Warcraft platform announced last month that it would cease World of Warcraft and other game services in China after failing to renew its contract with NetEase.
The Blizzard-owned Warcraft platform announced that it would cease operations in China. The platform will close registration for new users and suspend its top-up service on Friday. The Warcraft ‘s platform store and RPG map store will be closed on December 27.
Diablo Immortal, a co-developed mobile title, will be unaffected by the split. Blizzard is currently working to preserve player data and is in discussions with other potential local partners about publishing these titles in China.
Blizzard-owned Warcraft platform announced last month that it would cease World of Warcraft and other game services in China in January 2023 after failing to renew its contract with NetEase. The agreement, which was first signed in August 2008, allowed Blizzard to offer World of Warcraft in the country, where it has since become extremely popular.
World of Warcraft is a massively multiplayer online game in which players take on the role of their own characters, embark on quests, and battle monsters. Chinese players are concerned that their game data will be erased once Blizzard’s partnership with NetEase ends.
“The ‘World of Warcraft’ team is working hard to develop a feature that allows you to transfer your game characters, props, and azerites [an in-game currency] before the game is shut down on January 23,” Hight said on Tuesday.
“Your progress in Lars World will be saved on your personal devices,” Hight added.
High did not say whether Blizzard plans to look for alternative distribution partners in China for its other games, which include Hearthstone, Starcraft, and Diablo III.
Blizzard’s collaboration with NetEase was one of the most notable examples of a Western game franchise finding success in the Chinese market. It will now end after 14 years. NetEase CEO William Ding stated in November that Blizzard and NetEase had “material differences on key terms” when looking to renew their agreement.
Blizzard president Mike Ybarra stated in November that the company was “immensely grateful” for its Chinese community’s passion and was “looking for alternatives to bring our games back to players in the future.”
The upcoming releases of World of Warcraft: Dragonflight, Hearthstone: March of the Lich King, and season 2 of Overwatch 2 are expected to go ahead as planned later this year, while the launch of the mobile and PC game Diablo Immortal in China will be unaffected due to a separate agreement.
In general, life has been difficult for video game companies in China since Beijing launched an industry crackdown in 2018. The government has set a weekly limit of three hours for minors to play online games. It also places strict restrictions on the release of new games.
However, there are some indications that the crackdown is easing, with the rate of new game approvals increasing this year.