Reporter/CAI Shuyue Wu Liyang
The 15-year cooperation between Blizzard and NetEase, two gaming giants, is coming to an end.
On November 17, Blizzard Entertainment announced that NetEase will suspend the service of World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, Warcraft III: Remastered, Overwatch, StarCraft Series, Diablo III, and Heroes of the Storm due to the expiration of the current license agreement with NetEase on January 23, 2023.
However, Blizzard also noted in the announcement that the co-developed Diablo: Immortal mobile game will continue to operate under a separate agreement between the two companies.
Shortly after Blizzard's announcement, NetEase responded to a reporter from 21st Century Business Herald, saying that NetEase has been trying its best to negotiate with Activision Blizzard to extend the contract. After a long period of negotiations, NetEase still cannot reach an agreement on some key terms of cooperation with Activision Blizzard.
NetEase also said that it was regrettable that Activision Blizzard had announced the termination of the cooperation today, and NetEase would have to accept the decision. NetEase will continue to perform its duties and serve players until the last moment.
If Blizzard wants to change its agent in China after the two parties cease cooperation, it will have to face the problem that the format number of the game in operation needs to be adjusted. Sun Lei, a partner at Beijing Yuanhe Law Firm and a game law expert, told reporters that if World of Warcraft, Hearthstone and other games are suspended due to the expiration of the license contract, then it means that the previously obtained copyright will be invalid; However, if Blizzard finds a new partner and NetEase is willing to provide cooperation, the original version number may still be used after the change registration.
It is known that NetEase and Blizzard jointly established Shanghai Wangzhiyi Network Technology Development Co., LTD., which is dedicated to the operation of Blizzard's World of Warcraft, Starcraft 2 and other games in mainland China. Wangzhiyi also leads the organization and operation of relevant games' eschews. According to insiders, Wangzhiyi has two sets of staff belonging to NetEase and Blizzard respectively.
After Blizzard officially issued a "letter of separation" to NetEase, who will be its next agent, has become the capital market and the game circle quite concerned about the topic. "It can be revealed that there are more than one domestic game manufacturer vying for the rights to represent Blizzard in China, but it seems that Blizzard has not made a final choice." An unnamed game company staff to 21 reporters said.
(Writing by CAI Shuyue, Editing by Wu Liyang, Zhu Weijing)