BEIJING, November 21 (TMTPOST)— Blizzard Entertainment could resume licensing deal with an old partner for its popular title World of Warcraft (WoW) following the U.S. gaming giant’s breakup with NetEase.
Source: Visual China
Blizzard last week announced to suspend most Blizzard game services in mainland China, including World of Warcraft, Hearthstone Legend, Overwatch, StarCraft, Warcraft III: Reset, Diablo III, and Heroes of the Storm, upon the expiration of the existing licensing agreement with NetEase on Jan. 23, 2023. The move literally ends nearly 14 years’ cooperation between Blizzard and NetEase. NetEase was eager to continue its role as the agency, but Blizzard's demands for some key terms involving sustainable operations and the core interests of the Chinese market and players, are unacceptable, NetEase CEO Ding Lei commented.
The9 Ltd. is in talks with Blizzard’s future parent Microsoft, seeking to obtain the license at the cost approximately equaling to one fifth of its market valuation, China Economic Weekly, a magazine under the state-owned newspaper group People’s Daily, cited sources recently. Zhu Jun, cofounder and CEO at the Shanghai-based online game operator, has travelled from Singapore to China for the negotiation, the magazine added. Pictures circulated at social media showed Zhu has arrived in Shanghai. The news suggests possibility for The9 to resume licensing since the company has signed agreement to roll out WoW in China in 2004 and cut links with Blizzard in 2009.
Besides The9, a number of Chinese companies including Tencent, Bytedance, Perfect World, KongZhong and Bilibili, were discussing the license for WoW with Blizzard, according to another Chinese magazine Caijing. While Tencent has contacted Blizzard at least one year for the license, there is low possibility to settle the deal because the WeChat owner is less likely to spend a lot in WoW when the gaming industry is weakening weighed by looming recession this year, an insider at the company’s gaming unit told Caijing.
The person also revealed differences in game concepts have long existed between Blizzard and NetEase as Blizzard cares more about experience of the game process, while NetEase focuses on stimulating players’ winning psychology. Blizzard overlooks the psychology-oriented way, and NetEase looks down upon Blizzard’s arrogance even its dominance was faltering, so there is a contradiction in the management of WoW, the person noted.