Blizzard Entertainment, inc. has officially announced today that it would be suspending most Blizzard gaming services throughout mainland China due to the expiration of the current licensing agreements with NetEase, inc. The agreement is due to expire on January 23, 2023. This will include the following games: World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, Warcraft III: Reforged, Overwatch, the Starcraft series, Diablo III, and Heroes of the Storm. However, Diabo Immortal is co-development, and publishing is covered under a separate agreement between both companies…so that game just might be safe.
Overwatch 2‘s creators Blizzard Entertainment have had licensing agreements with NetEase since back in 2008, which covered the publication of Blizzard games and titles in China in order for resistants to play the games. However, this time around, the two parties have not reached a deal order to renew the same agreements for the games to continue to be available in China. The agreement is set to expire in January 2023 which is when the games will also be unpublished in China.
Below is a statement from the Activision Blizzard official website:
We will suspend new sales in the coming days and Chinese players will be receiving details of how this will work soon. Upcoming releases for World of Warcraft: Dragonflight, Hearthstone: March of the Lich King, and season 2 of Overwatch 2 will proceed later this year.
“We’re immensely grateful for the passion our Chinese community has shown throughout the nearly 20 years we’ve been bringing our games to China through NetEase and other partners,” said Mike Ybarra, president, Blizzard Entertainment. “Their enthusiasm and creativity inspire us, and we are looking for alternatives to bring our games back to players in the future.”
Fan’s Reactions To This Information So Far…
A user on Twitter by the name of OverwatchNaeri tweeted out about the news that Overwatch 2 would no longer be available in China due to this agreement expiring, many fans have been replying to the tweet with different shocked reactions like “omg” but also sharing some interesting points as well.
User reubendoyenewe went on to suggest that Overwatch has a huge viewing from China, while another person commented that South Korea is the second largest country that gives the most viewership to Overwatch. Other fans have gone on to express the same concern that this will cut back a lot of viewership for the league… we don’t know how harmful overall this could be for Overwatch 2. Some fans are wondering if Blizzard might just make an agreement with a different company to continue publishing their games in China, but that will have to be something we wait and see for.
Overwatch 2 is free-to-play on Nintendo Switch, Xbox, PlayStation, and PC.