Skip to main content

This is a nightmare come true for Chinese gamers: Most of Blizzard Entertainment’s video games are about to go dark in China, as an agreement between the Californian developer and Chinese publisher NetEase that spanned 14 years comes to an end on January 23, 2023.

Foreign companies aren’t allowed to distribute their games in China without being partnered with a homegrown company, so once the agreement between Blizzard and NetEase runs out, almost every Blizzard title needs to shut down overnight.

Until now, players in China had kept their hopes up that Blizzard and NetEase would strike a last-minute deal to keep things running as usual, but according to a report by the South China Morning Post, the team at NetEase handling the Blizzard partnership has already been mostly dissolved. That’s likely the last nail in the coffin for Blizzard’s Chinese aspirations, at least for now.

SCMP’s sources say that almost all members of the team based in Shanghai had been fired or moved to different posts, with merely ten remaining to handle the suspension of services that is due on January 23.

World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, Overwatch 2, Diablo 3, StarCraft 2, Warcraft 3, and Heroes of the Storm will have to cease their services once the agreement ends.

The only exception to this rule is Diablo Immortal, since the mobile game was co-developed by Blizzard and NetEase and runs under a different agreement.

Blizzard is looking for other distribution partners with several interested Chinese companies sending delegations to California already, but it’s very unlikely that a deal will be struck that would save these games from being taken offline.