Blizzard Entertainment has announced its extending its 11-year partnership with Chinese publisher, NetEase.
The collaboration – which commenced with a licensing agreement to bring StarCraft II and the Blizzard Battle.net to China in 2008 – will now run until January 2023 and encompasses World of Warcraft, the StarCraft series, the Diablo series, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, and Overwatch.
"NetEase has been instrumental in helping us bring Blizzard’s epic games to even more players around the world, and we’re grateful to have such a strong partner in China," said J. Allen Brack, President of Blizzard Entertainment. "We look forward to continuing our relationship and cooperation in China and beyond."
"We’re pleased to continue our successful partnership with Blizzard after more than a decade of close cooperation," added William Ding, founder and CEO of NetEase. "The scope of our collaboration is now deeper and broader than ever before. We’re confident that together we will continue to bring even more exciting game experiences to players worldwide."
NetEase is currently working with Blizzard to bring mobile title Diablo Immortal to China. The team promises it will be a "living, breathing, and constantly evolving" addition to the MMO franchise. However, despite promises of new character classes and storylines, a number of fans are upset and angry that Blizzard closed BlizzCon on this announcement when the community had been very much expecting either confirmation of a remaster, or a peek at Diablo 4.
NetEase has seen its revenue increase by 35 per cent year-over-year (YOY) to a Q3 net revenue of 16.9 billion yuan ($2.5 billion), 10.3 billion yuan ($1.5 billion) of which is attributed to online game services. Showing a gross profit of 7.5 billion yuan ($1.1 billion) – a 27 per cent YOY increase – the company’s boosted figures have been driven by Chinese mobile releases like Butterfly Sword, Ancient Nocturne, and Night Falls: Survival, as well as its partnerships with Western companies like Mojang and Blizzard.
After several months of uncertainty, an official at the Chinese Communist Party’s propaganda department recently confirmed the new regulator has completed reviews on the first batch of games – but two of China’s largest publishers, Tencent and NetEase, are notably missing from the list of 80 recently approved licenses.