Blizzard Consults With New Potential Distributors for ‘World of Warcraft’ in China

Blizzard Entertainment is in negotiations with possible partners about keeping the availability of its popular World of Warcraft game in China, given the impending end of its partnership with Chinese gaming giant NetEase.

The general manager of the Warcraft franchise, John Hight, claimed the firm is currently consulting several new possible distribution partners in the national service region, as first reported by CNBC.

“This process will continue until we find an appropriate solution,” he said in a statement issued Tuesday, Dec. 13, via the Chinese social media site Weibo. 

Gamers’ Woes

After failing to extend its deal with NetEase, Blizzard said last month that it will end services for World of Warcraft and other games in China beginning in January 2023. 

In August 2008, Blizzard and the Chinese government reached an agreement that would enable the company to distribute World of Warcraft in the country.

Players in World of Warcraft assume the roles of fictional characters as they complete missions, explore new lands, and battle with hordes of virtual enemies.

Reports indicate that Chinese gamers are concerned that their saved games will be wiped when Blizzard’s partnership with NetEase expires.

As a response, Hight tried to reassure players by saying that the World of Warcraft team is working hard to build a feature that lets them migrate their game characters, props, and Azerites [an in-game currency] before the service is disrupted on Jan. 23.

Lars World game data will be saved locally on players’ devices, Hight said.

On the other hand, the fate of Blizzard’s other titles in China, such as Hearthstone, Starcraft, and Diablo III, was not addressed by Hight.

Ended Partnership

When Blizzard teamed up with Chinese tech giant NetEase, it became one of the most prominent cases of a Western gaming series thriving in China. After 14 years, it will finally be coming to an end.

NetEase CEO William Ding claimed in November that the company and Blizzard had significant disagreements on critical parameters while discussing a renewal of their partnership.

Blizzard president Mike Ybarra expressed gratitude to the Chinese community in November. He confirmed that the firm is searching for methods to bring its games back to Chinese gamers in the future.

The launch of the mobile and PC game Diablo Immortal in China will not be hindered as a separate agreement protects it. Later this year, gamers may anticipate the regular releases of World of Warcraft: Dragonflight, Hearthstone: March of the Lich King, and season 2 of Overwatch 2.

Also Read: ‘Overwatch 2’ Is 2022’s ‘Most Disappointing’ Game, YouTuber Claims

China’s Gaming Regulations

Meanwhile, since Beijing began cracking down on the sector in 2018, life has been difficult for Chinese video game developers. 

Only three hours per week of internet gaming are permitted by law for anyone under the age of 18. And it limits the availability of new games in a significant way.

Although, the rate at which new games are being approved seems to be picking up this year, so there may be hope that the crackdown may be eased soon.

Also Read: China’s Tencent to Offer New Cloud-based Services Worldwide Amid Video Gaming Struggles 

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