Millions of gamers in China have lost access to the popular “World of Warcraft” franchise and other popular video games, as Blizzard Entertainment’s servers in the country have stopped working after two decades.
The company’s services in China were suspended at midnight local time on Tuesday, marking the end of an era for the masses, following a licensing agreement with a longtime local partner of NetEase.
“World of Warcraft,” Also known as “WoW”, this is a very popular multiplayer online game that allows users to fight against monsters and go on expeditions in the medieval world of Azeroth.
Many gamers around the world have grown up with this smash hit, including in China. This has been confirmed in recent days, as Chinese fans have expressed their disbelief about the loss of their longtime hobby in social media posts.
When I woke up, I still didn’t want to accept [it]one user He said on the Chinese Twitter-like platform Weibo, on Tuesday. “I cried all night in my sleep because the game stopped going online. I dreamed that I was crying in the middle of class.”
another player described World of Warcraft as my first love.
“I really can’t forget that,” they wrote.
The suspension follows a bitter dispute between Blizzard, a unit of Activision Blizzard
Foreign publishers must work with local partners to offer video games in China. But this past November, Blizzard and NetEase came along announce They will not renew licensing agreements that were set to expire this month.
Those deals have covered the publication of several Blizzard titles in mainland China, including “World of Warcraft,” “Hearthstone,” and “Diablo III” since 2008. In separate statements at the time, both sides said they were unable to Reaching a new agreement on the main terms, without giving further details.
Now, the discussions seem to be getting more intense.
in statment Blizzard said Tuesday that it has reached out to NetEase to request “their assistance in exploring a six-month extension to the existing agreement.”
The US company said it has implored NetEase to allow fans to continue playing without interruption, “based on our personal feelings as gamers, and the frustrations expressed to us by Chinese players.”
“Unfortunately, after renewed discussions last week, NetEase has not accepted our proposal for an extension,” Blizzard said.
NetEase succeeded again with the Special statement last week.
In unusually terse comments, it accused the Chinese technology and gaming giant Blizzard of blinding it with its “surprising statement” and called the US company’s proposal “outrageous, inappropriate and not in line with business logic”.
NetEase also noted that Blizzard has “already begun work on finding new partners” in China, putting the Hangzhou-based company in an “unfair” position.
The public spat marked an unexpected turn in the companies’ 14-year partnership.
Under a separate agreement, the two companies are jointly developing and co-publishing “Diablo Immortal,” another widely followed multiplayer game that allows users to slay demons in the ancient world. Netease said in a statement November This cooperation will continue.
Blizzard He said in December that “World of Warcraft” fans would be able to Support Record their play and make sure all progress is saved as they finished their agreement and searched for a new partner.
This week’s shutdown was emotional, even for NetEase’s senior leadership.
in Linkedin post On Monday, Simon Zhu, head of global investments and partnerships at NetEase Games, broke down how he grew up with Blizzard’s games in China, including the older “Warcraft” and “Diablo” titles.
“Just [a] A few hours before Blizzard Games’ servers in China shut down, this is a very big deal for gamers in China.”
“Today is a sad moment to watch the server shut down, and we don’t know how it will go in the future. The biggest victim will be the players in China who live and breathe in those worlds.”
Activision Blizzard, which previously had another Chinese partner before teaming up with NetEase, said it continues to search for a new distribution partner.
Our commitment to players in mainland China remains We are strong as we continue to work with Tencent to distribute Call of Duty: Mobile, as well as continue active conversations with potential partners to resume play for popular Blizzard franchises,” an Activision Blizzard spokesperson told CNN.
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