China Welcomes Back World Of Warcraft As Blizzard, NetEase Reach Agreement


After a tumultuous fallout in 2023, Blizzard Entertainment and NetEase Inc NTES have reconciled, marking a return of popular gaming titles to the Chinese market.

What Happened: A joint statement released on Wednesday revealed that the iconic World of Warcraft and other beloved games from Blizzard Entertainment will make a comeback, following a year of negotiations.

The renewal of the partnership between California-based Blizzard and Hangzhou-based NetEase comes after a 15-year relationship that had been abruptly terminated. The cessation left millions of fans in China disheartened, signaling an end to a long-standing gaming era.

See Also: How Miscommunication Over Microsoft Acquisition Led To Activision Blizzard-NetEase Split

“We are thrilled to embark on the next chapter, built on trust and mutual respect, to serve our users in this unique community that we’ve built together,” NetEase CEO William Ding said in a statement.

Under the new deal, titles including “World of Warcraft” and “Hearthstone,” alongside others from the Warcraft, Overwatch, Diablo, and StarCraft franchises, are slated to make a sequential return to the Chinese market starting this summer. Further details regarding the relaunch are anticipated to be disclosed at a later date.

Meanwhile, Microsoft Corp.‘s MSFT Microsoft Gaming and NetEase have also forged an agreement to explore the introduction of new titles by the Chinese company to Xbox consoles.

This development comes following Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard, one of the largest video game developers globally, in 2023.

“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,” Phil Spencer, CEO of Microsoft Gaming, said.

With restrictions imposed on gaming hours for minors and heightened scrutiny on gaming addiction, the return of these titles marks a notable event in the evolving landscape of China’s gaming ecosystem.

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