Today, gamers in China will lose access to a vast majority of games from Blizzard. That includes World of Warcraft and other popular titles, such as Hearthstone, StarCraft, Diablo 3, Overwatch 2, and Heroes of the Storm.
The gaming giant’s end of operations in the country comes due to the termination of its licensing agreement with NetEase.
Blizzard and NetEase announced at the end of 2022 that they wouldn’t extend the contract that officially expires on January 23rd.
Furthermore, Blizzard said that NetEase rejected its proposal to continue the existing partnership for another six months while it looks for a new Chinese partner. That made it impossible to keep the distribution going.
In a response, NetEase described the proposed six-month extension as “unequal” and “unfair.”
The company also tore down its World of Warcraft orc statue in a livestream. The user ChaijingNDS went live on TikTok, showing people bashing the figure with hammers.
China players bid farewell to their favorite titles today
With the 14-year licensing partnership ending, players in China will have to say goodbye to their beloved characters. Sadly, they’ll lose access to accounts they invested time and money in.
However, Blizzard advised them to create data backups so that they could retrieve their game progress with the next release.
But while the California-based company is searching for a new partner in China, players shouldn’t expect their favorite titles to return anytime this year. Any new deal would first have to go through a lengthy and stringent regulatory process.
On the bright side, one of the games that has survived the Blizzard-Netease fallout is Diablo Immortal. It’s under a separate long-term licensing agreement, meaning that the Chinese players will still have access to it after other games go offline today.
Can a VPN help?
Players in China who want to continue to play World of Warcraft and other Blizzard games will have to look for a reliable VPN service.
By connecting to a VPN server, they can hide their real IP addresses, and their traffic will appear to be from another country.
Chinese gamers may want to consider turning to NordVPN, as it’s effective against the country’s Great Firewall. We also have a list of possible solutions in case you experience NordVPN issues in China.
Moreover, using VPN software is recommended for everyday use, too. Namely, location spoofing allows access to censored sites and other content.
After the deal between Blizzard and NetEase officially ends today, Chinese players will have to look for alternative ways to access their favorite titles until a new contract is struck.
However, the game developer is just starting to look for a new publisher in the country, so this could take a while.
What do you think about the Blizzard-NetEase saga? Let us know in the comment section below.