Blizzard Entertainment and NetEase suspend gaming services in China

Blizzard Entertainment and NetEase suspend gaming services in China

IRVINE, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. today announced that it will be suspending most Blizzard game services in mainland China due to the expiration of current licensing agreements with NetEase, Inc. on January 23, 2023. This includes World of Warcraft®, Foyer®, Warcraft® III: Reforged, Surveillance®, the StarCraft® series, Diablo III®and Heroes of the Storm®. Diablo Immortal® co-development and publishing are subject to a separate agreement between the two companies.

Blizzard Entertainment has had licensing agreements with NetEase since 2008, covering the publication of these Blizzard titles in China. The two parties have not reached an agreement to renew the agreements that is consistent with Blizzard’s operating principles and commitments to players and employees, and the agreements are set to expire in January 2023.

We will suspend new sales in the coming days and Chinese players will soon receive details on how this will work. Upcoming releases for World of Warcraft: Dragonflight, Hearthstone: March of the Lich King, and season 2 of Monitor 2 will proceed later this year.

“We are extremely grateful for the passion our Chinese community has shown throughout the nearly 20 years we have brought our games to China through NetEase and other partners,” said Mike Ybarra, President of Blizzard Entertainment. “Their enthusiasm and creativity inspire us, and we are looking for alternatives to make our games accessible to players in the future.”

About Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.

Best known for its iconic video game universes, including Warcraft®Surveillance®Diablo®and StarCraft®, Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. (, a division of Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ: ATVI), is a leading developer and publisher of entertainment experiences. Blizzard Entertainment has created some of the most critically acclaimed and genre-defining games in the industry over the past 30 years, with a track record that includes multiple Game of the Year awards. Blizzard Entertainment engages tens of millions of players worldwide with titles available on PC via®Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, iOS and Android.

Caution Regarding Forward-Looking Statements: Statements contained herein that are not historical facts are forward-looking statements, including, but not limited to, statements of our plans and goals, including those related to product or service launches. Activision Blizzard, Inc. generally uses words such as “outlook”, “forecast”, “will”, “could”, “should”, “would”, “be”, “plan”, “aim”, “believe”, “may”, “could”, “expect”, “intend”, “seek”, “anticipate”, “estimate”, “future”, “positioned”, “potential”, “project” , “remains”, “expected”, “fixed at”, “subject to”, “to come” and the negative version of these words and other similar words and expressions to help identify forward-looking statements. are subject to business and economic risks, reflect management’s current expectations, estimates and projections regarding our business and are inherently uncertain and difficult to predict.

We caution that a number of important factors, many of which are beyond our control, could cause our actual future results and other future circumstances to differ materially from those expressed in the forward-looking statements. These factors include, but are not limited to: the expected effect of the expiration of the agreement with NetEase, Inc.; the effect of the announcement or expectation of the proposed transaction with Microsoft Corporation (“Microsoft”) on our business relationships, results of operations and business generally; risks that the proposed transaction with Microsoft will disrupt our current plans and operations and potential difficulties with employee retention following the proposed transaction with Microsoft; the global impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and other macroeconomic factors (including, without limitation, the potential for significant short- and long-term global unemployment and economic weakness and resulting impact results in global discretionary spending; potential pressure on retailers, distributors and manufacturers who sell our physical products to customers and platform providers on whose networks and consoles some of our games are available; effects on our ability to publish our content in a timely manner and with effective quality control; the effects on our ability to prevent cybersecurity incidents while our workforce is dispersed; the effects on the operations of our professional esports leagues; and the impacts macroeconomic impacts resulting from the long duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, including labor shortages and supply chain disruptions ment); our ability to consistently deliver popular, high-quality titles in a timely manner, which has been made more difficult due to the COVID-19 pandemic; our ability to attract, retain and motivate qualified personnel; the risks and uncertainties of conducting business outside of the United States (the “United States”), including the need for regulatory approval to operate; risks related to the behavior of our distributors, retailers, development and licensing partners, or other affiliated third parties that could harm our brands or business operations; our reliance on third-party tools and technology; failures, disruptions or degradations of our services, products and/or technological infrastructure; data breaches, fraudulent activity and other cybersecurity risks; increase regulation in key jurisdictions; Internet regulation, including potential harm from laws impacting “net neutrality”; data privacy regulations, including China’s Personal Information Protection Law; the insolvency or bankruptcy of any of our business partners, which has been amplified as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic; and the other factors included in Part I, Item 1A “Risk Factors” of our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2021, filed with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission.

The forward-looking statements contained herein are based on information available to Activision Blizzard, Inc. as of the date of this filing, and we undertake no obligation to update such forward-looking statements. Actual events or results may differ from those expressed in forward-looking statements. As such, you should not rely on forward-looking statements as predictions of future events. We have based the forward-looking statements contained herein primarily on our current expectations and projections regarding future events and trends that we believe may affect our business, financial condition, results of operations, prospects, strategy and financial needs. These statements are not guarantees of our future performance and are subject to risks, uncertainties and other factors, some of which are beyond our control and may cause actual results to differ materially from current expectations.

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