Activision Blizzard kiss and make up with NetEase ahead of China return

The move will see the return of Blizzard titles such as World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, Warcraft III: Reforged and Overwatch to the Chinese market

Activision Blizzard kiss and make up with NetEase ahead of China return

Call of Duty developer Blizzard Entertainment has made a return to China after one year of absence in the Chinese gaming market. Blizzard's return to China comes thanks to a return to partnership with one of China's top game publishers, NetEase.

As reported by 36Kr, Blizzard will not properly commence operations in China for about six months as it will have to work together with NetEase to rebuild domestic teams and run a test on their new servers.

Blizzard's split with NetEase last year marked a significant switcharound in the gaming industry. Following an inability to forge a new deal, Chinese servers of Blizzard's gaming platform were closed, concluding the 15-year partnership between the World of Warcraft publisher and NetEase in China.

Following the split - and the loss of revenue that has resulted - Activision Blizzard had attempted to gain access to the Chinese market via a new deal with Netease rivals included Perfect World, Alibaba Group, ByteDance and Tencent but it appears that after a year - and a failed attempt a reconcilliation previously - the two giants have finally buried the hatchet.

The Call of Duty maker's return to China has now ignited hope among players who witnessed their tumultuous parting.

Popular tiles make a comeback

The new deal will see the return of titles under Blizzard in mainland China, such as World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, Warcraft III: Reforged, Overwatch, the StarCraft series, Diablo III, and Heroes of the Storm.

In addition, the news of Blizzard's return to China didn't take long to claim the top spot on Weibo's trending topics chart. As yet neither NetEase nor Blizzard have provided a clear statement on the matter but we expect more to be shared in the coming days.

In November 2022, Blizzard declared the suspension of its game services in China due to the expiration of licensing agreements with NetEase. However, the pivotal shift in the relationship between Blizzard and NetEase would appear to be the result of Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard and the departure of CEO Bobby Kotick in late 2023.

It's likely therefore that the new management have made the resolution of the ongoing conflict a priority.

Staff Writer

Isa Muhammad is a B2B writer and video games journalist with 5+ years experience covering games, interviewing industry professionals, tracking industry trends and understanding the market.