Netease, the Chinese publisher for games such as World of Warcraft and Diablo 3, says proposals from Activision Blizzard to temporarily extend their partnership are “rude and unreasonable,” accusing the company behind Call of Duty of trying to take a “free ride.”
World of Warcraft, Overwatch 2, Diablo 3, and other Activision Blizzard games are all published in China via Netease. The deal between the two companies, however, is set to expire January 23, rendering these games inaccessible to Chinese players from January 24.
Activision Blizzard has reportedly proposed a deal that would see the partnership between itself and Netease continue for another six months, as Activision Blizzard seeks a replacement publishing partner in China. Netease, however, says this proposal is “inappropriate.”
“Last week, Blizzard re-sought Netease with an offer of a so-called six-month extension of the game service and other conditions, and made it clear that it would not stop continuing negotiations with other potential partners during this extension,” Netease says.
“As far as we know, Blizzard’s negotiations with other companies during the same period were all based on a three-year contract period. Considering the non-reciprocity, unfairness, and other strict conditions attached to the cooperation, the parties could not reach an agreement in the end.”
Netease says that Activision Blizzard’s proposal to temporarily extend its current publishing deal as it searches for a new, long-term partner is “rude and unreasonable, inappropriate and commercially illogical.” Further, Netease says Activision Blizzard is making “endless, exorbitant demands, taking free rides, and taking all advantages without responsibilities.”
In a response published by Reuters, Blizzard China says “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.”
Last week, management at Proletariat, the Activision Blizzard studio which co-develops World of Warcraft, refused to voluntarily recognise a proposed employee union, saying that a vote to unionise, held via the National Labour Relations Board, would be the “fairest option.”
The proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft is facing opposition from both the Federal Trade Commission and a group of dedicated Call of Duty players, who believe the $69 billion USD deal would breach antitrust laws.