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Blizzard Entertainment and NetEase Renew Agreement to Bring Beloved Titles Back to China; Microsoft Gaming, NetEase Enter Broader Collaboration

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Source: https://www.businesswire.com/news/h...ft-Gaming-NetEase-Enter-Broader-Collaboration

IRVINE, Calif. & REDMOND, Wash. & HANGZHOU, China--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Beloved video game titles from Blizzard Entertainment that captivated millions of players in China will return to the market sequentially, beginning this summer, under a renewed publishing deal Blizzard Entertainment, Microsoft Gaming, and NetEase (NASDAQ: NTES and HKEX: 9999) announced today.

After continuing discussions over the past year, both Blizzard Entertainment and NetEase are thrilled to align on a path forward to once again support players in mainland China and are proud to reaffirm their commitment to delivering exceptional gaming experiences.

The renewed publishing agreement will encompass games Chinese players had access to under the previous agreement: World of Warcraft®, Hearthstone®, and other titles in the Warcraft®, Overwatch®, Diablo®, and StarCraft® universes. Building upon more than 15 years of past collaboration, Blizzard and NetEase are working diligently on relaunch plans, with further details to be shared at a later date.

Separately, Microsoft Gaming and NetEase have also entered into an agreement to explore bringing new NetEase titles to Xbox consoles and other platforms.

“We at Blizzard are thrilled to reestablish our partnership with NetEase and to work together, with deep appreciation for the collaboration between our teams, to deliver legendary gaming experiences to players in China,” said Johanna Faries, President of Blizzard Entertainment. “We are immensely grateful for the passion the Chinese community has shown for Blizzard games throughout the years, and we are focused on bringing our universes back to players with excellence and dedication.”

“Celebrating our collaborations, we are thrilled to embark on the next chapter, built on trust and mutual respect, to serve our users in this unique community that we’ve built together.” said William Ding, Chief Executive Officer and Director, NetEase. “Our commitment to providing more exhilarating and creative entertainment experience remains unwavering, and we are excited to see positive synergies fostered to encourage and empower collaborations to bring the joy of gaming to a broad community.”

“Blizzard and NetEase have done incredible work to renew our commitment to players – Blizzard’s universes have been part of players’ lives in the region for many years. Returning Blizzard’s legendary games to players in China while exploring ways to bring more new titles to Xbox demonstrates our commitment to bringing more games to more players around the world,” said Phil Spencer, CEO of Microsoft Gaming.
 
press release so I'm posting in ful

BLIZZARD ENTERTAINMENT AND NETEASE RENEW AGREEMENT TO BRING BELOVED TITLES BACK TO CHINA; MICROSOFT GAMING, NETEASE ENTER BROADER COLLABORATION​

Blizzard titles to return to mainland China beginning summer 2024

Microsoft Gaming and NetEase deepen their relationship, with a strategic partnership based on their shared desire to bring new gaming experiences to players across platforms and markets

IRVINE, Calif., REDMOND, Wash., AND HANGZHOU, Zhejiang [April 9 PT, April 10 CT] / -- Beloved video game titles from Blizzard Entertainment that captivated millions of players in China will return to the market sequentially, beginning this summer, under a renewed publishing deal Blizzard Entertainment, Microsoft Gaming, and NetEase (NASDAQ: NTES and HKEX: 9999) announced today.

After continuing discussions over the past year, both Blizzard Entertainment and NetEase are thrilled to align on a path forward to once again support players in mainland China and are proud to reaffirm their commitment to delivering exceptional gaming experiences.

The renewed publishing agreement will encompass games Chinese players had access to under the previous agreement: World of Warcraft®, Hearthstone®, and other titles in the Warcraft®, Overwatch®, Diablo®, and StarCraft® universes. Building upon more than 15 years of past collaboration, Blizzard and NetEase are working diligently on relaunch plans, with further details to be shared at a later date.

Separately, Microsoft Gaming and NetEase have also entered into an agreement to explore bringing new NetEase titles to Xbox consoles and other platforms.

“We at Blizzard are thrilled to reestablish our partnership with NetEase and to work together, with deep appreciation for the collaboration between our teams, to deliver legendary gaming experiences to players in China,” said Johanna Faries, President of Blizzard Entertainment. “We are immensely grateful for the passion the Chinese community has shown for Blizzard games throughout the years, and we are focused on bringing our universes back to players with excellence and dedication.”

“Celebrating our collaborations, we are thrilled to embark on the next chapter, built on trust and mutual respect, to serve our users in this unique community that we’ve built together.” said William Ding, Chief Executive Officer and Director, NetEase. “Our commitment to providing more exhilarating and creative entertainment experience remains unwavering, and we are excited to see positive synergies fostered to encourage and empower collaborations to bring the joy of gaming to a broad community.”

“Blizzard and NetEase have done incredible work to renew our commitment to players – Blizzard’s universes have been part of players’ lives in the region for many years. Returning Blizzard’s legendary games to players in China while exploring ways to bring more new titles to Xbox demonstrates our commitment to bringing more games to more players around the world,” said Phil Spencer, CEO of Microsoft Gaming.
 
Could Netease's Project Mugen finally be one of those console gachas MS was hoping to get on their platform?
 
The fundamental sticking point between Activision Blizzard and NetEase was that NetEase wanted a deal in which it would have more control of operations in China. NetEase argued that this was the best way to navigate China's increasingly draconian regulations, while Activision argued that it didn't want to lose control over its player data, IP rights, and so on.

There were other points of tension along the way — like NetEase investing in ex-Blizzard game studios such as Second Dinner — but that was the main conflict. So it'll be interesting to see how that's resolved in this new deal.
Here’s @jschreier on Era for the breakup initially
 
Great news for Microsoft, chinese PC gaming market is very important.

NetEase games coming to Xbox could be a nice addition too.
 
I wonder if this means Microsoft will take publishing duties for NetEase console/PC games in the west. And probably their mobile games for MS's mobile store

Which begs the question, what do they have in development?
 
Here’s @jschreier on Era for the breakup initially
Well with MSFT being involved now, I don't think Netease had that much leverage now in comparison to what they had over ABK. Especially if they were trying to strong arm ABK over the merger. As Microsoft is operating in China and also has the connections there, I think the deal was mainly about gaming. Also it is cool that it potentially involves publishing games on Xbox.

I wonder if with AI relationship with Nvidia, Microsoft could get some Nvidia chip deal for Xbox for example and so on.
 


There are now over 2 million pre-registrations for World of Warcraft in China, ahead of its relaunch. Also, there have been 92k accounts recovered by past players + 147k accounts reactivated. Players in China will be able to use their original account at relaunch.
 
Remember kids, forcing foreign businesses to work through local companies is only bad when the US does it!


I'm only partially joking

US allows foreign game companies to publish themselves though. China effectively enforces a state sponsored monopoly on video game publishing by forcing foreign companies to publish under Chinese companies and therefore rent seeks a huge amount that should be going to the devs.

I believe NetEase takes a whooping 50%, for doing very little work, something that would likely cost ABK as little as 10-15%.
 
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