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NetEase Inc renews game partnership with Blizzard

By FAN FEIFEI | China Daily | Updated: 2024-04-11 00:20
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Activision Blizzard's game World of Warcraft. [Photo/]

Chinese internet company NetEase Inc has renewed its partnership with United States-based online game company Blizzard Entertainment to bring the latter's popular game services back to China this summer. The move will provide high-quality games for Chinese internet users and bolster the domestic gaming industry's development and prosperity, industry experts said.

Following yearlong discussions, the two companies said in a statement on Wednesday that they were pleased to renew a partnership that would benefit players in China.

Blizzard had licensing agreements with NetEase since 2008, but suspended most of its game services on the Chinese mainland as a result of the expiry of the licensing agreements with NetEase on Jan 23, 2023.

Their renewed partnership will encompass games that Chinese players had access to under the previous one, including World of Warcraft and Hearthstone.

Building upon their more than 15 years of previous cooperation, the two companies are working on the relaunch plans, with further details to be unveiled at a later date, said the statement. It added that a period of time was required to restart services and resolve technical issues such as restructuring server rooms and restoring data.

In a separate tie-up, US tech company Microsoft's gaming division and NetEase entered into an agreement to explore bringing new NetEase titles to Microsoft's Xbox consoles and other platforms.

In October, Microsoft acquired US game developer Activision Blizzard, Blizzard Entertainment's parent company, in a $69 billion deal, a record for a video game industry takeover.

Jiang Han, a senior analyst at market consultancy Pangoal, said that Blizzard, as a world-renowned game developer, has a large number of game players around the world, while NetEase has abundant experience and resources in game publishing and operations.

"The resumption of the Blizzard-NetEase partnership will allow the companies to give full play to their own advantages, jointly promote the development of Blizzard's games in the Chinese market, and achieve win-win results," Jiang said.

He noted that major game companies are currently actively seeking partners to expand their market share amid intensified competition, and the renewed partnership between NetEase and Blizzard also indicates that there will be more cooperation in the gaming industry.

Ding Lei, CEO of NetEase, said in a statement, "Our commitment to providing a more exhilarating and creative entertainment experience remains unwavering, and we are excited to see positive synergies fostered to encourage and empower collaboration to bring the joy of gaming to a broad community."

Revenue from China's gaming industry reached 302.96 billion yuan ($41.9 billion) in 2023, up 14 percent year-on-year, with the number of Chinese game users reaching 668 million, according to a report from Chinese gaming database Gamma Data Corp.

Industry experts also said the country has sent positive signals for a more supportive regulatory policy toward the gaming sector, bringing growth opportunities for gaming companies both at home and abroad.

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