Overwatch, WoW, Diablo suspended as Blizzard China deal expires

Overwatch, World of Warcraft, Diablo 3, Hearthstone, Starcraft, and Heroes of the Storm, are suspended in China as Blizzard ends deal with Netease

Overwatch, Wow, Diablo suspended as Blizzard China deal expires: Tracer from online FPS game Overwatch 2, wearing orange combat glasses

Overwatch, World of Warcraft, Diablo 3, Hearthstone, Starcraft, and Heroes of the Storm are set to be suspended in China as Blizzard and Netease fail to reach a new publishing agreement.

Blizzard has held a licensing agreement with Netease to publish a range of its titles in China since 2008. However, in a statement published November 16, the developer said it had been unable to reach a new deal with Netease, resulting in a suspension of its games and game services.

“The two parties have not reached a deal to renew the agreements that is consistent with Blizzard’s operating principles and commitments to players and employees,” the Diablo and WoW studio explains, “and the agreements are set to expire in January 2023. Blizzard Entertainment…will be suspending most Blizzard game services in mainland China due to the expiration of the current licensing agreements with NetEase, Inc. on January 23, 2023.”

Players will still be able to access Blizzard games and services the Netease licensing agreement, but from January 24, all Blizzard titles published through Netease will become inaccessible.

“From 0:00 on January 24, 2023, the operation of Blizzard game products will be officially stopped, Battle.net login and all game servers will be closed, as well as the client download,” says Blizzard China, in an official statement. “After the game server is closed, all account data and character data in each game (including but not limited to character data, remaining game time, each game items, materials, subscription and paid information) will be sealed. We will properly handle the game data in accordance with the requirements of laws and regulations to protect the legitimate rights and interests of users.”

Blizzard says that upcoming releases for World of Warcraft: Dragonflight, Overwatch 2, and Hearthstone: March of the Lich King, will proceed later this year, and that players “will be receiving details of how this will work soon”.

Players who have purchased but not used in-game currency, or paid play time such as battle passes, will have refunds processed “after Blizzard game products cease operation”. Diablo Immortal, which is published under a separate agreement between Blizzard and Netease, will not be affected whatsoever.

“After long negotiations, we were still unable to reach agreement with Activision Blizzard on some key terms of cooperation,” says Netease, in a statement translated by Wowhead. “NetEase Games will do its best to fulfil its responsibilities and serve players until the last moment. We promise that we will do our best to negotiate with Activision Blizzard to protect the interests of Chinese players to the greatest extent possible for the issues related to refunds, game data, virtual property, game rights, that everyone is concerned about.”

In a separate comment, posted to their personal LinkedIn page, president of Netease global investment Simon Zhu refers to “damage” caused by a “jerk” “behind the scenes”.

“As a gamer who spent ten thousand hours in the world of Azeroth, Starcraft, and Overwatch, I feel so heartbroken as I will no longer have access to my account and memories next year,” says Zhu. “One day, when what has happened behind the scenes [can] be told, developers and gamers will have a whole new level of understanding of how much damage a jerk can make.”

In an official statement, Mike Ybarra, president of Blizzard Entertainment, acknowledges the “passion” of the studio’s Chinese community and says Blizzard is working to make its game available in China once again.

“We’re immensely grateful for the passion our Chinese community has shown throughout the nearly 20 years we’ve been bringing our games to China through NetEase and other partners,” Ybarra says. “Their enthusiasm and creativity inspire us, and we are looking for alternatives to bring our games back to players in the future.”

Make sure to keep tabs on the release date and details for Overwatch 2 season 2. You might also want to pick a new main from the best Overwatch 2 DPS heroes or get a detailed look through Overwatch 2 maps to learn the best spots for picking off your foes.