Gaming

Activision Blizzard to Suspend China Game Services After NetEase Licenses End in January

Activision Blizzard said on Thursday it would suspend most Blizzard game services in mainland China once its current licensing agreements with NetEase end in January.

Blizzard Entertainment said it was unable to reach a deal with the Chinese Internet and gaming giant that was “consistent with Blizzard’s operating principles and commitments to players and employees.”

Hangzhou-based NetEase said in a Chinese statement that it was unable to agree on key terms of cooperation and added, in a second statement in English, that the expiration of the licenses would have no “material impact” on its financial results.

NetEase’s share price slid about 11 percent in morning trading in Hong Kong, pulling back slightly from a steeper drop following the announcement.

NetEase has become China’s second-biggest gaming company behind Tencent in large part due to its status as Blizzard’s publishing partner in China since 2008-2009 when Blizzard ended its deal with The9.

California-based Blizzard said new sales would be suspended in the coming days and players would receive further details.

The games to be suspended from January 23 include World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, Warcraft III: Reforged, Overwatch, the StarCraft series, Diablo III, and Heroes of the Storm.

According to NetEase, the recently published Diablo Immortal, co-developed by NetEase and Blizzard, is covered by a separate long-term agreement, allowing its service to continue in China.

NetEase said Blizzard’s games contributed a low-single-digit percentage to its total net revenue and net income in 2021 and the first nine months of 2022.

The absence of Blizzard games could lower NetEase’s revenue by 6-8 percent next year, Daiwa Capital Markets wrote in a research report on November 9. The calculation was based on its estimate that licensed games account for around 10 percent of NetEase’s total revenue and Blizzard accounts for 60-80 percent of licensed games.

China’s massive gaming industry, once marked by unbridled growth, has been heavily bruised by Beijing’s efforts to tighten its oversight of the sector, including by reducing the number of gaming licenses given out and limiting play time for teens.

Blizzard Entertainment said 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 are looking for alternatives to bring our games back to players in the future,” Blizzard President Mike Ybarra said in the statement.

NetEase’s Nasdaq-listed shares have nearly halved to about $71 (roughly Rs. 5,800) from their February 2021 peak of $132 (roughly Rs. 10,800).

© Thomson Reuters 2022


Affiliate links may be automatically generated – see our ethics statement for details.

Products You May Like

Articles You May Like

Nubia Red Magic 8 Pro Specifications Leak via TENAA Listing, Tipped to Run on Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 SoC
Elon Musk’s Neuralink Faces US Federal Investigation, Internal Staff Backlash Over Animal Tests
Amazon Kindle (11th Gen) With 6-Inch Display, 16GB Storage, USB Type-C Port Launched in India
Mark Zuckerberg Calls Apple’s App Store Moderation Rules a ‘Conflict of Interest’
Microsoft Agrees to Release Call of Duty on Nintendo Platforms for 10 Years Amid Regulatory Scrutiny

Leave a Reply

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