Hong Kong

Millions of players in China have lost access to the popular “World of Warcraft” franchise and other popular video games as Blizzard Entertainment’s servers in the country went offline after two decades.

At midnight local time on Tuesday, the company’s services in China were suspended, marking the end of an era for fans following a licensing deal with longtime local partner NetEase.


“World of Warcraft”, Also known as “WoW”, it is a very popular online multiplayer game that allows users to fight monsters and travel on expeditions in the medieval world of Azeroth.

Many players around the world, including in China, grew up with the hit. This has been highlighted in recent days, as Chinese fans expressed in social media posts that they do not believe they have lost their long pastime.

“When I woke up, I still didn’t want to take it [it],” one user he said Tuesday on China’s Twitter-like platform Weibo. “I cried myself to sleep all night because the game was offline. “I dreamed that I was crying in the middle of the lesson.”

Another player described “World of Warcraft” as “my first love”.

“I really can’t forget it,” they wrote.

The suspension follows a bitter dispute between Blizzard, a division of Activision Blizzard.

and NetEase.

Foreign publishers must work with local partners to offer video games in China. Last November, Blizzard and NetEase announced they would not renew their license agreement, which expires this month.

Those deals included publishing several popular Blizzard titles in mainland China since 2008, including World of Warcraft, Hearthstone and Diablo III. At the time, in separate statements, both sides said they could not get it. a new agreement on basic terms without further details.

Now, it seems, the discussions have become more intense.

One statement Last Tuesday, Blizzard said it had contacted NetEase to “request their assistance in exploring a six-month extension of the existing agreement.”

The US company said it had appealed to NetEase to allow fans to play without interruption “based on our personal feelings as gamers and the frustration expressed to us by Chinese players”.

“Unfortunately, after renewed discussions last week, NetEase did not accept our extension offer,” Blizzard said.

NetEase responded with its own own statement last week.

In unusually brief comments, the Chinese tech and gaming giant accused Blizzard of discrediting its “sudden statement” and called the US company’s proposal “absurd, inappropriate and inconsistent with business logic.”

NetEase also noted that Blizzard has already “started to find new partners” in China, putting the Hangzhou-based company in an “unfair” position.

People visit Blizzard Entertainment's 'World of Warcraft' during an exhibition in Shanghai in October 2018.

The public outcry marked an unexpected turn in the companies’ 14-year partnership.

In a separate agreement, the companies are working together to co-develop and publish Diablo Immortal, another massively popular multiplayer game that lets users slay demons in an ancient world. This is stated in the statement of NetEase november said that this cooperation will be continued.

A blizzard in December, “World of Warcraft” fans said they could backup ensure that their game history and all progress is saved as he breaks the contract and looks for a new partner.

This week’s closing was emotional, even for NetEase’s senior management.

One LinkedIn post On Monday, Simon Zhu, NetEase Games’ president of global investments and partnerships, detailed how it has grown with Blizzard games in China, including the older “Warcraft” and “Diablo” titles.

“Only [a] A few hours before the Blizzard Games servers in China were shut down and this is a huge deal for players in China,” he wrote.

“It’s a very sad moment to witness the server shutdown today and we don’t know how things will turn out in the future. The biggest victim will be the players who live and breathe in those worlds in China.”

Activision Blizzard, another Chinese partner before the merger with NetEase, said it was continuing to search for a new distribution partner.

“Our commitment to players in mainland China remains As we continue to work with Tencent to distribute ‘Call of Duty: Mobile,’ as well as continue active discussions with potential partners to continue gaming for Blizzard’s iconic franchises,” an Activision Blizzard spokesperson told CNN.

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