A year and a half after NetEase parted ways with the Microsoft-owned developer, Blizzard has struck a new deal to bring its games back to China.

Blizzard confirmed that all games covered by the previous publishing agreement, including World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, “as well as other games in the Warcraft, Overwatch, Diablo and StarCraft universes” ” will return to the Chinese market in the summer of 2024.

Microsoft Games and NetEase have also reached a separate agreement to explore bringing new NetEase games to Xbox consoles and other platforms, according to a statement on Blizzard’s website.

“Blizzard is excited to re-establish our partnership with NetEase and is grateful for the collaboration between our teams to deliver legendary gaming experiences to Chinese players,” said Johanna Faries, president of Blizzard Entertainment. “We are very grateful for the collaboration between our teams.” We are deeply grateful to the Chinese community for their enthusiasm for Blizzard games over the years, and we are committed to bringing our universe back to players with excellence and dedication.”

Phil Spencer, CEO of Microsoft Games, agreed, saying: “Bringing Blizzard’s legendary games back to Chinese players while exploring how to bring more new games to Xbox reflects the fact that we are bringing more games to more players around the world. The promise of the game.”

What happened between NetEase and Blizzard?

NetEase has been the publisher of Blizzard games in mainland China since 2008. However, the partnership ended when their agreement expired in January 2023 and was not renewed. Hangzhou-based NetEase has previously said that Blizzard games only contributed a low single-digit percentage of its revenue and profits. According to “Rest of World” reports, “World of Warcraft” had more than 3 million registered users in China at that time. China’s gaming industry is the world’s largest and includes industry giant Tencent Holdings.

“We have made great efforts and negotiated with Activision Blizzard with the utmost sincerity so that we can continue to cooperate and provide services to many enthusiastic players in China,” NetEase founder and CEO William Ding said at the time. He added that “significant differences on key terms” were holding up a new deal. However, Ding later said, “We are excited to start this next chapter.”

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