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NetEase Message to Chinese Blizzard Game Players

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Update: there's now also a very interesting comment from the NetEase Global Investment and Partnership President, which you can find at the bottom of the article.

We now also have two NetEase messages to their Blizzard game players, detailing exactly what will happen on January 24th, when their license ends, from the Battle.net client being shut down, to support of new releases before that date, what will happen to character data and more. 

Thanks to Neo once again for translating the below statement. 

NetEase (Source)

To all of you, dear Blizzard gamers.

Thank you for your continued support and love of Blizzard products. We are honored to have worked with you for 14 years to create and share an unforgettable gaming experience, and once again, we thank you most sincerely!

Due to the expiration of our agreement with Blizzard Entertainment, World of Warcraft, Hearthstone Legend, Overwatch Return, Diablo III, StarCraft II, Warcraft III: Remastered, Heroes of the Storm (collectively referred to as "Blizzard products"), which are operated by Shanghai NetEase Network Technology Development Co, will terminate operation at 0:00 on January 24, 2023, and we hereby notify you of the following matters related to the termination of operation in mainland China.

November 23, 2022 onwards, we will close Blizzard game products in Battle.net and the client paid service and user registration portal.

During the period from November 23, 2022 to January 23, 2023, the servers of Blizzard game products will be open normally, and the content update of World of Warcraft "Dragonflight", Hearthstone Legend "The March Of The Lich King" and "Overwatch Return Season 2" will be available as usual, and users can continue to log in and experience the game content. At the same time, users will still be able to spend their Battle.net points and virtual currency on their accounts.

From 0:00 on January 24, 2023, the operation of Blizzard game products will be officially stopped, Battle.net login and all game servers will be closed, as well as the client download.

After the game servers are closed, all account data and character data in each game (including but not limited to character data, remaining game time, each game's items, materials, subscription and paid information, etc.) will be sealed. We will properly handle the game data in accordance with the requirements of laws and regulations to protect the legitimate rights and interests of users. For players who have paid but not used all online game virtual currency and paid game time (if any) that has not yet expired, we will start to arrange refunds after Blizzard game products cease operation.

...

Dear Blizzard gamers:
Due to the expiration of Activision Blizzard's license agreement with NetEase on January 23, 2023, Blizzard will discontinue most of its game services in mainland China (including World of Warcraft, Hearthstone Legend, Overwatch Returned, Diablo III, StarCraft II, Heroes of the Storm) starting January 24 at 00:00, based on contractual restrictions, while Diablo: Immortal's service will not be affected.

NetEase and Blizzard first partnered in 2008. Over the past 14 years, we have introduced Blizzard's high-quality games to China step by step, starting with World of Warcraft, and even synchronizing global release. With each introduction of a new game, we were excited, because these games also carry our passion and youth.

Within NetEase, there are also several thousand hard-core fans of Blizzard games. Therefore, we are more empathetic to the feelings of players at this moment. Before today, we had been doing our best and negotiating with Blizzard in good faith to seek continued cooperation in mainland China. However, after long negotiations, we were still unable to reach agreement with Activision Blizzard on some key terms of cooperation. Unfortunately, Activision Blizzard has announced earlier today that they are ceasing its cooperation and we will have to accept this decision. After January 23, 2023, NetEase will lose its distributorship and will no longer be able to continue to manage and operate these games that have carried players' memories for 14 years.

Next, NetEase Games will do its best to fulfill its responsibilities and serve players until the last moment. We promise that we will do our best to negotiate with Activision Blizzard to protect the interests of Chinese players to the greatest extent possible for the issues related to refunds, game data, virtual property, game rights, etc. that everyone is concerned about.

At the same time, we will work with Activision Blizzard to achieve "business to business, game to game", pay attention to the voice of players, value all that players who have paid for the game, and properly protect everyone's game assets and memories. We will continue to inform players of the progress of the work through official channels such as the "Blizzard Game Service Center". Once again, we thank all players for their understanding and support. If possible, we hope that Blizzard's departure is only temporary. After the shutdown, we will continue to hold on in our own way and not give up lightly. We believe that those who meet can meet again.

It seems there may have indeed  been some behind-the-scenes drama, as NetEase Global Investment and Partnership President Simon Zhu talked about his own characters and a certain "jerk" that caused or affected this outcome, over on his LinkedIn.

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17 minutes ago, Antimagic said:

I see this as an absolute win.

Unless you mean because NetEase specifically were bad I don't see how. There's 2 outcomes here: 1. Blizz find (or have already found) a new publisher and this "just" caused a lot of stress on Chinese players. 2. Chinese players LITERALLY lose all their accounts, characters and everything in Blizzard games.

Could you point out the "win" there for me?

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You all do realize the extraordinary conditions forced upon Blizzard to even sell games in China? It is absurd and in many cases contrary to the beliefs of not only United States citizens, but people from countries around the world. 

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59 minutes ago, Starym said:

Unless you mean because NetEase specifically were bad I don't see how. There's 2 outcomes here: 1. Blizz find (or have already found) a new publisher and this "just" caused a lot of stress on Chinese players. 2. Chinese players LITERALLY lose all their accounts, characters and everything in Blizzard games.

Could you point out the "win" there for me?

I doubt it's option 1, as in 2009, services were transferred from The9 to Netease, and Act-Bli services were'nt shutdown during the transfer ... Looks like a definitive closing to me (or at least for the upcoming months/year(s) )

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This is a huge loss for everyone, but mostly for the players in China. People will lose their accounts and all the money and time invested. Blizzard will lose a huge chunk of its income and friends will no longer be able to play together. This is pure idiotic nationalism at its best.  People need to let go of the arcaic thoughts of national pride.

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Guess we are stuck waiting until "one day" to see the story unfold.
I can't see Microsoft suddenly digging up principles, but there had to be something that was simply not worth it.
And with "it" being the chinese market, it certainly amounts to a lot.

2 hours ago, Starym said:

Could you point out the "win" there for me?

I mean it's not like blizzard is directly funding concentration camps and it is doubtful to have much of an impact, but it certainly is a different path from Blizchung's free Hong Kong position.

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3 hours ago, blacktiger1974 said:

But they had free-ish spectral tiger mount. Don't care. Less China anywhere is a good thing.

What a brainbroken american take, like why would you want half of their player base to disappear

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If you guys really believe this will actually get shut down, then you do not understand business.

Its a negotiating tactic. You tell xxx million players that you are shutting down their game.. they go crazy on Netease and Netease will all of the sudden be more amiable to Blizzard demands.

Netease is trying to lock in a long term deal before Microsoft takes control in June. Netease may lose the control of WoW/CoD and others when Microsoft takes over because Microsoft has been handling its own games in china for 20+ years and doesn't need Netease.

 

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This is bad for people with toons on these servers.

 

Who knows what's really going on behind the scenes. Netease could be the bad guy or Blizzard or both. Maybe Blizzard even decided they were morally opposed to China or something. Who knows.

 

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1 minute ago, Krimzin said:

If you guys really believe this will actually get shut down, then you do not understand business.

Its a negotiating tactic. You tell xxx million players that you are shutting down their game.. they go crazy on Netease and Netease will all of the sudden be more amiable to Blizzard demands.

Netease is trying to lock in a long term deal before Microsoft takes control in June. Netease may lose the control of WoW/CoD and others when Microsoft takes over because Microsoft has been handling its own games in china for 20+ years and doesn't need Netease.

 

Could be but we're not in the meeting room so we don't know who's strong arming who here.

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5 minutes ago, Prophet001 said:

Could be but we're not in the meeting room so we don't know who's strong arming who here.

Common sense. You know that Microsoft is buying Activision/Blizzard. You know Microsoft has produced its own games in China for 20 years without a 3rd party. Blizzard used a 3rd party in China. Why would Microsoft change its business model and not just fold WoW into the same thing thats been successful for them for 20 yrs in China?

If you are Netease, you know you are about to lose a huge amount of money if you dont have a contract period that execeeds the purchase of Activision Blizzard. Netease's last contract with Activision/Blizzard was for 14yrs. Thats not going to happen with the purchase being 7 months away.

Again, just speculating.

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9 hours ago, Peghoul said:

I doubt it's option 1, as in 2009, services were transferred from The9 to Netease, and Act-Bli services were'nt shutdown during the transfer ... Looks like a definitive closing to me (or at least for the upcoming months/year(s) )

It’s not true. Players were unable to play for months as it took time to transfer data and test servers.

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13 hours ago, Starym said:

Could you point out the "win" there for me?

Exactly, there is no "win" there. But where could Blizzard go next? Maybe Tencent? Unless there is more to it and there are also certain laws in the way. Or it's just business as usual and one side wanted more money than the other.

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When a corporation buys a business they consolidate, liquidate, or mediate business proposals for share market growth and value for gross profit outcome.  Very rarely does it depend on actual consumer needs/wants on a given product.  Now, with the issue with China and Netease all I'm seeing is a very shrewd business tactic over the end of a contract.  As for the '*filtered*'' in question I feel as if we are only seeing a very small portion of the story and not the whole.  My sympathy goes out to the players on those servers for being caught up in the middle of this mess.

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On 11/17/2022 at 3:43 AM, blacktiger1974 said:

But they had free-ish spectral tiger mount. Don't care. Less China anywhere is a good thing.

Yes we get it hurr durr China = bad.  Maybe you could represent our country a little better and not be so ignorant as to condemn everything and everyone in an entire nation, though, since the actual reality is that not 100% of everything and everyone in China is bad and you make us look so incredibly stupid.

Edited by skitzy129
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6 hours ago, Raffinaddi said:

What's stopping Blizzard from giving the contract to let's say Korea or Thailand? Just use a VPN and get access to their account.

They need a partner company to publish in China. Most VPNs are banned in China and those that are allowed require a backdoor, so no way to handle any payments etc., if government can look into them.

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