NetEase Announces Renewed Partnership with Blizzard, Explores New Opportunities in Mobile

Technology Author: EqualOcean News Apr 10, 2024 08:13 PM (GMT+8)

On April 10th, Blizzard Entertainment, Microsoft Gaming, and NetEase jointly announced that, following a newly updated game publishing agreement, Blizzard's flagship games will gradually return to the Chinese market starting this summer. Currently, Blizzard and NetEase are collaboratively developing a detailed plan for the return of these games and will share more information in the future.

The return will include all of Blizzard's games previously covered under the old agreement, such as "World of Warcraft," "Hearthstone," and games developed within the universes of "Warcraft," "Overwatch," "Diablo," and "StarCraft." Additionally, Microsoft Gaming and NetEase have signed a new agreement aiming to explore opportunities to bring new NetEase games to Microsoft's Xbox gaming console platform and other platforms.

It is worth noting that the official Weibo account of "World of Warcraft" released a letter to the players of Blizzard's games in China today, stating that account data for Blizzard's games will be fully retained when the servers are rebooted. Simultaneously, the official WeChat account of "World of Warcraft" announced that, in light of Blizzard games' imminent return to the national server, the NetEase Blizzard distribution team is actively recruiting new members.

At the end of last year, following the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) approval of Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion, making it a wholly-owned subsidiary, the market anticipated a possible renewal of the partnership between NetEase and Blizzard. After the acquisition, Microsoft restructured Blizzard, including replacing CEO Bobby Kotick, who had a stringent stance towards NetEase, removing previous barriers to collaboration. Due to the complexity of reapplying for a game license and NetEase's operational experience in China, Microsoft chose to renew its partnership with NetEase, reducing the cost and risk of changing distributors.

Moreover, the cooperation between NetEase and Microsoft is not limited to game distribution but also includes introducing new NetEase-developed games to Xbox and other platforms. This decision by Microsoft partly stems from its interest in the potential of the mobile gaming market, especially against the backdrop of intensified competition in the global gaming market and declining consumer spending. Adapting Blizzard's classic game IPs for mobile gaming is seen as a strategic move to tap into new growth avenues.

NetEase is optimistic about the prospects of adapting Blizzard's game IPs for mobile, despite these games contributing a relatively small percentage to its overall revenue. This collaboration between NetEase and Microsoft represents a deepened partnership, jointly exploring new opportunities in the mobile gaming market.