Navigating Market Trends, Personal Finance Tips, and Economic Insights

The Chinese company NetEase said on Wednesday that it had struck a deal to distribute titles from Microsoft’s Blizzard Entertainment, restoring access to popular video games like World of Warcraft for Chinese gamers.

More than a year ago, NetEase and Blizzard called an end to their long-running partnership when renewal talks turned testy, with both sides accusing each other of bad-faith negotiations. An uproar ensued among Chinese gamers, upset about losing access to a slew of popular titles from Blizzard’s parent company, the U.S. game developer Activision Blizzard.

NetEase said on Wednesday that it had reached the new deal with Microsoft, which acquired Activision Blizzard in a $69 billion deal in October. The two companies said they had also agreed to distribute NetEase titles on Microsoft’s Xbox game device.

“We are thrilled to embark on the next chapter, built on trust and mutual respect, to serve our users in this unique community that we’ve built together,” William Ding, NetEase’s chief executive, said in a statement.

NetEase and Blizzard first signed a distribution deal in 2008, and the agreement proved beneficial for both sides. NetEase gained access to globally popular titles, while Blizzard secured a foothold in what would become the world’s largest video game market. At one point, World of Warcraft was the most popular online game in China.

China’s gaming industry has been in turmoil over the last several years. Beijing has sought to rein in online gaming, expressing concern that addiction to it could corrupt young Chinese people. The government has introduced laws that prohibit children from playing online games on school days and limit their gaming to an hour on weekends and holidays.

Last year, regulators proposed rules that would have imposed spending limits on video game platforms and barred minors from tipping video game livestreamers, a popular way to support online influencers. But regulators backed off the proposal after video game companies’ stocks plunged.

The government crackdowns added a layer of complexity to the negotiations between Activision and NetEase, according to a New York Times investigation into the breakup that was published last year.

Chinese gamers will still have to wait a few months before they can resume playing titles like Warcraft, Overwatch, Diablo, Hearthstone and StarCraft, NetEase and Blizzard said. The companies said they needed time to make “technical preparations” such as restoring data and building new server facilities. They said they were aiming for the first game, which they did not identify, to be available “in the summer.”

The announcement of the new agreement was shared widely on Weibo, China’s version of X, and the reaction was mostly negative. Some people still seemed upset that the games had not been available for more than a year, while others accused Blizzard of disrespecting Chinese gamers. One person said that users were not so “cheap” as to come running back immediately once the games had returned.

Share this article
Shareable URL
Prev Post
Next Post
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Read next
The powerful geomagnetic storm that cast the northern lights’ vivid colors across the Northern Hemisphere over…
Ms. Goodfriend, 79, who started counseling pet owners in 2005, credited this spike to the pandemic, which she…
When investors talk about “zombie” companies, they’re usually referring to distressed start-ups that are…
The Kansas City Chiefs enter Sunday’s Super Bowl having already won — when it comes to commercials. Over the…