Blizzard & NetEase to suspend game services in China

The licensing agreements for many Blizzard games have expired, meaning titles will no longer be available in China.


A licensing agreement between Blizzard Entertainment and NetEase will expire in January 2023, resulting in games under the agreement being suspended in China. This follows the two companies being unable to reach a new deal to renew the agreements.

A screenshot from Warcraft 3: Reforged
Warcraft 3: Reforged is one of the many games that will become unavailable in China due to the expiration of the licensing agreement.
Source: Blizzard Entertainment

Blizzard Entertainment offered a press release on November 16, 2022 that detailed the situation. In the release, Blizzard notes that the licensing agreement that was founded in 2008 with NetEase expires on January 2023. This agreement saw the company able to sell the following games in China:

  • World of Warcraft
  • Hearthstone
  • Warcraft III: Reforged
  • Overwatch
  • StarCraft series
  • Diablo III
  • Heroes of the Storm

Unfortunately, Blizzard has been unable to reach a new deal to renew the agreement in a manner that is “consistent with Blizzard’s operating principles and commitments to players and employees.” Due to this, the above games will no longer be available and Blizzard will suspend new sales in China in the coming days.

The press release notes that World of Warcraft: Dragonflight, Hearthstone: March of the Lich King, and season 2 of Overwatch 2 will “proceed later this year” which seems to indicate these games will not be affected by the expiring agreement. Furthermore, Diablo Immortal is covered by a separate agreement, meaning it will most likely still be available in China. However, the wording is a bit murky on this one.

Blizzard Entertainment President Mike Ybarra offered the following statement to the company’s Chinese players:

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. Their enthusiasm and creativity inspire us, and we are looking for alternatives to bring our games back to players in the future.

The company plans to reach out to its players in China to inform them of how this will all work. Check out our Blizzard Entertainment page as we bring you the latest on the sitation.  

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Hailing from the land down under, Sam Chandler brings a bit of the southern hemisphere flair to his work. After bouncing round a few universities, securing a bachelor degree, and entering the video game industry, he's found his new family here at Shacknews as a Guides Editor. There's nothing he loves more than crafting a guide that will help someone. If you need help with a guide, or notice something not quite right, you can Tweet him: @SamuelChandler 

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