NetEase allegedly suing Activision Blizzard following licensing deal collapse

After NetEase and Activision Blizzard's partnership ended, forcing the latter to pull games from China, NetEase is apparently seeking compensation for refunds.


It looks like the butting of heads between NetEase and Activision Blizzard over the licensing of Activision Blizzard’s games in China may be headed for court. Following the breakoff of their long term deal to allow NetEase to publish Activision Blizzard’s games in the region, the games have been pulled from the Chinese market and NetEase is now apparently suing Blizzard for refunds and unsold merchandise to the tune of $43.5 million USD.

Word of NetEase’s lawsuit against Activision Blizzard came out of Chinese media conglomerate Sina Technology, as shared by WoWHead. According to the report NetEase is suing Activision Blizzard over a supposed violation of licensing agreements. NetEase is seeking compensation for refunds to players affected by the removal of multiple Activision Blizzard games, including World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, Warcraft III: Reforged, Overwatch, the StarCraft series, Diablo 3, and Heroes of the Storm. NetEase will also seek compensation for unsold merchandise and deposits on games that were still in development (likely pertaining to Diablo 4).

World of Warcraft: Dragonflight screenshot of a red dragon.
World of Warcraft and its latest Dragonflight expansion were among the games removed from Chinese markets in the Activision Blizzard and NetEase dispute.
Source: Activision Blizzard

The total damages sought in the lawsuit would amount to around 300 million RMB, or $43.5 million USD. The bad blood between Activision Blizzard goes back to January 2023 of this year. That was when Activision Blizzard announced it would not continue its longstanding publishing agreement with NetEase, but also placed the blame on NetEase for the removal of its games from the Chinese market. Tensions boiled over the terminated agreement with NetEase removing a World of Warcraft statue from its headquarters campus following the dispute.

It looks like this dispute is far from over though. Activision Blizzard is still holding out for acquisition by Microsoft to finish, but it may have a court date in its near future with NetEase as well. Stay tuned as we follow this story for further updates.

Senior News Editor

TJ Denzer is a player and writer with a passion for games that has dominated a lifetime. He found his way to the Shacknews roster in late 2019 and has worked his way to Senior News Editor since. Between news coverage, he also aides notably in livestream projects like the indie game-focused Indie-licious, the Shacknews Stimulus Games, and the Shacknews Dump. You can reach him at and also find him on Twitter @JohnnyChugs.

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