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Activision Blizzard blames NetEase for lack of Chinese partnership extension

"It is a pity."

Yesterday, news broke that NetEase had been forced to largely disband its team of people working on Activision Blizzard games in China, after negotiations failed to extend the life of hit titles such as World of Warcraft, Hearthstone and Overwatch in the country.

Now, Activision Blizzard subsidiary Blizzard China has claimed it offered a six month extension to NetEase, while it spent time looking for a new long-term partner.

Blizzard China revealed the claim today on social media site Weibo, news agency Reuters has reported. There's no detail on Activision Blizzard's ongoing search for a new Chinese partner, or word on how or when its games might return.

Cover image for YouTube videoDiablo Immortal | Season 2 Battle Pass
China typically requires a local publisher to handle the releases of Western games. NetEase also handles Diablo Immortal, albeit under a separate agreement.

"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 wrote.

It's unclear under what terms Blizzard China wanted to extend its contract, or why it no longer wanted to partner with NetEase.

NetEase declined to comment to Reuters on this latest development. Back in November, the company said it had worked hard to negotiate with Activision Blizzard, but had found the company's terms unacceptable.

World of Warcraft, Overwatch, Hearthstone, Diablo 3, Heroes of the Storm and the StarCraft series will become unplayable in China from 23rd January 2023, when NetEase's current license expires. Diablo Immortal is unaffected.

NetEase's team which worked on running these games in China began to lose people last November, it was reported yesterday, when it became clear Activision Blizzard would not reach an agreement with the company to extend its 14-year partnership.

Late last year, a senior figure at NetEase publicly criticised the actions of an unnamed "jerk" for the breakdown in relationship between his company and Activision Blizzard, which is owned by controversial boss Bobby Kotick.