For the past 14 years, Activision Blizzard has partnered with NetEase to bring games to the Chinese public. In recent years, the two have collaborated on original games and created games like Diablo Immortal.
However, after the release of their latest mobile release, the two’s relationship has seemingly soured. After that, Blizzard canceled NetEase’s World of Warcraft mobile game in development, though Blizzard is apparently working on an internal alternative.
Yesterday, NetEase officially announced the termination of its 14-year agreement with Blizzard. Despite the long-term relationship, the two have cut ties and the business separation appears to be rather one-sided.
With the two unable to negotiate an extension, Blizzard games in China will be halted. Furthermore, the sale of Blizzard games in the region will be stopped for the next few days.
In a statement sent to the press via email, NetEase said it was “disappointed” with Blizzard’s decision to terminate the agreement.
“NetEase Games would like to thank all fans in China for their continued support and love for Blizzard’s games,” it wrote. “It has been an honor to join them on this journey together, creating and sharing unforgettable gaming experiences, and we would like to say a big thank you to them. We share the passion for Blizzard’s gaming products and are deeply disappointed that our respective organizations were unable to reach a renewed contractual agreement.”
Does this affect Diablo Immortal?
Despite the end of the partnership, one Blizzard-NetEase game will not be affected: Diablo Immortal. If you’re wondering if Diablo Immortal will shut down, don’t worry: it won’t.
However, in China, the following titles are discontinued. Diablo 3, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, Overwatch, StarCraft (all titles), Warcraft 3: Reforged and World of Warcraft.
With Blizzard looking for another partner to publish its games in China, it seems unlikely that NetEase will make more mobile games based on Blizzard IP. Personally, we hope Blizzard doesn’t abandon mobile.