NetEase Inc, a Chinese games publisher, announced on Wednesday that it has rejected a proposal from Activision Blizzard Inc to extend their partnership for six months. The U.S. game developer is currently seeking a new partner.
NetEase stated that the proposal was “commercially illogical” and accused the U.S. firm of “seeking a divorce but still remaining attached.” This is a rare public display of acrimony between the two gaming giants.
In November, Blizzard announced that it would end its 14-year partnership with NetEase, causing shockwaves across the industry as the partnership was widely seen as one of the most lucrative in video games.
The companies were unable to agree on key terms of cooperation and as a result, popular games such as ‘World of Warcraft’ and ‘Overwatch’ will not be available in China, the world’s largest gaming market, from January 23rd.
NetEase also mentioned that Blizzard reached out last week with an offer to extend the partnership for six months, but also made it clear that it would not stop negotiating with other potential partners.
Shortly after Blizzard and NetEase first announced they would be going their separate ways last year, NetEase president of global investment and partnerships Simon Zhu said there was more to the falling out between the two companies than meets the eye.
“One day, when what has happened behind the scene[s] could be told, developers and gamers will have a whole new level understanding of how much damage a jerk can make,” Zhu said.
In order to prevent Chinese WoW players from losing decades worth of progress in the MMORPG, Blizzard announced it will roll out a new feature that will allow players to download their characters for safekeeping ahead of the game’s upcoming shut down in the region. Warcraft general manager John Hight said “everyone will be able to keep their game history and memory in their own hands,” until a new partner in China is found.
Though the falling out between NetEase and Blizzard has been incredibly public, the two companies technically still work together in some capacity. NetEase co-developed Diablo Immortal alongside Blizzard, which according to Activision Blizzard’s Q3 2022 financial results, has sat among the top-10 grossing mobile games in China since its July 2022 launch. Development on the free-to-play mobile game will continue thanks to a separate agreement between the two companies.
NetEase was reportedly also working on a mobile Warcraft MMO for multiple years, only to have the project canceled when Blizzard and NetEase could not come to financial terms.