Blizzard Entertainment has announced that it will be suspending most of its game services in China.
The game developer shared the news in an official statement on Activision’s website, confirming that the suspension was due to the expiration of the current licensing agreements with NetEase – the Chinese internet technology company that provided the online service for the games – on January 23.
The end of the deal will see online services for a number of Blizzard’s most popular games come to an end, including World Of Warcraft, Hearthstone, Warcraft 3: Reforged, Overwatch, the StarCraft series, Diablo 3, and Heroes Of The Storm.
Diablo Immortal, meanwhile, is covered under a separate agreement between the two companies.
Blizzard Entertainment has held licensing agreements with NetEase since 2008, covering the publication of the aforementioned titles in China.
Activision Blizzard said in the statement: “The two parties have not reached a deal to renew the agreements that is consistent with Blizzard’s operating principles and commitments to players and employees, and the agreements are set to expire in January 2023.”
“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.”
Mike Ybarra, president of Blizzard Entertainment, added: “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.
“Their enthusiasm and creativity inspire us, and we are looking for alternatives to bring our games back to players in the future.”
In other news, Blizzard Entertainment has confirmed that Mei will soon return to Overwatch 2 as a playable character, following a bug fix.
Last month, Mei was removed from the game due to a bug with her Ice Wall ability, which allowed players using her to teleport a character like Kiriko into the map geometry. From there, Kiriko could swap to a different hero and attack players from underneath the map.