Blizzard Games to Return to China Under New Agreement With NetEase

Blizzard has announced that its games are coming back to mainland China in summer 2024 after almost a year and a half off the market. Additionally, Microsoft (which now owns Blizzard) and NetEase have entered another separate agreement to bring NetEase games to Xbox and other platforms.

Blizzard’s games were taken offline in China in January 2023 after NetEase and Blizzard were unable to reach a new publishing deal. However, both companies have now reached one. The deal will include all of the games that Chinese players had access to from the previous agreement, including ones like Overwatch, Diablo, and World of Warcraft.

While both parties are working to relaunch the games, more details will be revealed later. Phil Spencer chimed in on Microsoft’s new partnership with NetEase, saying, “Returning Blizzard’s legendary games to players in China while exploring ways to bring more new titles to Xbox demonstrates our commitment to bringing more games to more players around the world.” However, Spencer provided no other specifics.

This new deal comes after Blizzard and NetEase had a bit of a falling out back in November 2022 when their oiriginal publishing contract was set to expire. Blizzard China and NetEase were pointing fingers at each other, where the former offered to extend services, but the latter declined it, with one NetEase executive claiming that the original deal extension fell apart because of one specific “jerk.”

Either way, Blizzard was committed to look for alternative ways to bring its games back to the Chinese market, but it finally reached a new agreement with NetEase.

George Yang is a freelance writer for IGN. He’s been writing about the industry since 2019 and has worked with other publications such as Insider, Kotaku, NPR, and Variety.

When not writing about video games, George is playing video games. What a surprise! You can follow him on Twitter @Yinyangfooey

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