NetEase Blizzard Team Dissolved After 14-Year Deal Falls Through

Ule Lopez
Blizzard NetEase

Today, NetEase has disbanded the local team that works on several Blizzard titles that were licensed from Blizzard Entertainment, according to a recent report by the South China Morning Post. This happened as the 14-year-long deal that both companies had was not renewed and will expire on January 23 of this year.

Once the deal falls through, several Blizzard titles will suspend their online service in China, including the following titles:

  • Overwatch
  • Hearthstone
  • World of Warcraft
  • Diablo
  • StarCraft
  • Heroes of the Storm

Additionally, all new game sales in China will be suspended starting on November 23, 2022 and all existing Blizzard game products and services will be terminated at 0:00 AM CST on January 24, 2023. Activision Blizzard will work with NetEase to formulate a refund plan while expressing commitment to protecting players' assets and data.

As for what's going to happen to the development team? Well, according to the South China Morning Post, most of the employees have been laid off or reassigned. The only people left from this subsidiary will be a skeleton crew of 10 people who will handle customer service and technical issues following the deal's expiration. The team will move on after six months.

Some readers might notice that we didn't mention one Blizzard title in particular: Diablo Immortal. Well, it seems like that game will continue to be available despite the current situation. This is because the mobile game developed by both NetEase and Blizzard is currently undergoing a separate agreement and is run by NetEase itself. Needless to say, the NetEase team is also unaffected by the job cuts.

It's also been reported that in December, Activision Blizzard was negotiating with some potential distribution partners in China. However, despite multiple Chinese companies sending delegates to the United States for talks, none of them has seemingly landed a deal with the company before January 23.

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