NetEase disbands the team operating Blizzard games in China

January 17, 2023 6:09 am

NetEase disbanded the team responsible for handling Blizzard's games, as most of the US game developer's services in mainland China will end on January 24.

The Chinese gaming giant has been responsible for publishing and operating Blizzard games in China for 14 years, but in November 2022, it terminated the licensing agreement with Activision Blizzard due to “material differences on key terms” in deal negotiations.

Many people have left after the news first broke in November, and some technical personnel have been transferred to other teams in Shanghai. At its peak, NetEase had a team of around 100 people supporting the distribution and operation of Blizzard's tittles in China. 

Affected games include World of Warcraft, Overwatch, Hearthstone, Diablo 3, Warcraft 3, StarCraft 2 and Heroes of the Storm. 

Mobile game Diablo Immortal is unaffected, as this is part of a separate agreement and co-developed by NetEase and Blizzard. 

The end of partnership with Blizzard will not significantly affect the NetEase's business. According to the Hangzhou-headquartered company, net revenue and net revenue contribution from Blizzard's licensed games are "low single digits" and accounted for a portion of its overall sales and profits in 2021 and the first nine months of 2022.