NetEase has decided not to renew its contract with Activision Blizzard, meaning several titles will be unavailable to play in China from next week.
World Of Warcraft, Overwatch, Hearthstone, Diablo 3, Heroes Of The Storm and the StarCraft series will become unplayable from January 23 when NetEase’s licence expires. There’s currently no word from Activision Blizzard about a new partner, or when the games will return but it has previously said talks were being held with prospective partners.
NetEase has had a contract with Activision Blizzard for the past 14 years but last year, it was reported that the two companies couldn’t reach an agreement about extending the deal.
According to Blizzard China, the company offered NetEase a six-month extension of the contract while it looked for a new partner, but NetEase refused the unknown terms.
“It is a pity that NetEase is not willing to extend services of our game for another six months on the basis of existing terms as we look for a new partner,” Blizzard China said about the situation (via Reuters).
NetEase declined to comment but last year, the company said that despite tough negotiations with Activision Blizzard, it has found the company’s terms unacceptable.
Despite this, Diablo Immortal will remain unaffected.
It’s the latest blow to hit Activision Blizzard. Yesterday (January 16) it was reported that Microsoft was set to receive an EU antitrust warning over its acquisition of the company.
Currently, 16 regulatory bodies across the world have launched investigations into Microsoft’s proposed takeover in order to assess its likely impact on competition.
However Activision Blizzard’s chief commercial officer has said that the company’s acquisition by Microsoft will only “benefit” gamers as well as the US gaming industry. “We won’t hesitate to fight to defend the transaction if that’s needed,” she added.