China WoW Server Down 14 Years After Expiration of NetEase Agreement

Fans of Blizzard games like World of Warcraft and guard in China is in mourning after the majority of Blizzard game services in the country shut down, after Activision Blizzard and China’s NetEase Games failed to renew their license agreements.

The two companies have been partners for 14 years, with Blizzard’s MMORPG operating in the country for several years under a separate company before Blizzard and NetEase teamed up. The handover between WoW’s former operator in China and NetEase in 2009 was the first time WoW ceased operations in the region, albeit only for a few months.

Activision Blizzard announced late last year that it would not renew its contract with NetEasewith game services will end on January 23. That time has come, because WoW players in China were forced to download nearly two decades’ worth of character data in the hope that one day the game’s servers will be back up and their characters can be restored.

A longtime WoW player in China captured the last moments of the game in this country on Twitter, said that their act of downloading characters began to be referred to as digital “cremation” by Chinese players. The server shutdown was unfortunately a quiet affair, as the act of players downloading their character data effectively locked them out from playing the game and participating in any form of farewell gathering.

In a long post on LinkedIn titled “A Love Letter: The Memory Remains,” NetEase’s president of investments and global partners, Simon Zhu, personally thanked the many Blizzard employees (many of whom no longer work for the company). company) for their contributions to creating worlds enjoyed by millions. Chinese players.

“Today is such a sad moment to see the server down and we don’t know how things will turn out in the future,” Zhu wrote. “The biggest victims will be the players in China who live and breathe in those worlds. I also know how hard it was for the Blizzard developers who gave their all. with my blood and talent to build those wonderful worlds. I hope all those precious memories never fade away.”

Activision Blizzard is looking for a new partner in China to distribute its games, but recently sought a contract extension with NetEase for only six months to avoid interruptions in game services. NetEase rejected that deal on the grounds of unfair treatment, as Blizzard allegedly offered the other companies three-year contracts. Both companies have issued statements essentially accusing the other of the deal’s failure. NetEase has since disbanded the team responsible for Blizzard games in the region, even going as far as destroying their Blizzard office and dismantling an Orc statue directly on the stream.

It’s unclear when Blizzard games may return to China. WoW General Manager John Hight in December said Blizzard is in discussions with “several new distribution partners” and “the process will continue until we find a workable solution.”

Despite the current conflict between Blizzard and NetEase, there is one Blizzard game that is still playable in China: Diablo Immortal. This free mobile game is co-developed by NetEase with Blizzard and is covered in a separate licensing agreement between the two companies. NetEase is also said to be working on a Mobile MMO Warcraft until last year, when the project was canceled after Blizzard and NetEase failed to agree on financial terms.

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