(Bloomberg) — Millions of Chinese gamers have lost access to World of Warcraft after a heated dispute between US title owner Activision Blizzard Inc. and NetEase, its longtime local partner in the world’s biggest gaming market. .
Fans of the popular game have taken to social media to express their regret over the loss, with one posting a photo of a failed contact message alongside a crying emoji.
“This really hurts my heart,” one wrote. “It hurts, it hurts a lot”, another.
The 14-year partnership has brought great benefits to both parties, helping NetEase become the second-largest game distributor in China after Tencent Holdings Ltd. And it gave Blizzard a way to tap into a huge Asian market. But the two companies broke off talks late last year over a new licensing deal to make Blizzard franchises like Diablo, Warcraft and Overwatch available in China.
Tensions escalated this month when Netease accused his longtime partner of being “rude and inappropriate”. Blizzard offered to extend the license agreement for another six months while they work out new terms, but Netease described the idea as “offering a divorce but still dealing with the same partner.”
Besides financial terms, the main sticking points in the dispute were over intellectual property and control over the data of millions of gamers across China, Bloomberg News previously reported. In its January statement, NetEase said it never sought to control intellectual property rights in its relationship with Blizzard, which only uses its game assets by mutual consent.
Blizzard Says NetEase Rejected Game License Extension Offer
Servers hosting Blizzard games were shut down in China at midnight on January 23. The company has promised to allow World of Warcraft players to save their progress through a new service. NetEase warned that it could not guarantee the security of this service, saying it could pose a security risk.
Instead of taking sides in the corporate feud, the prevailing sentiment expressed on social media for former players has been one of disappointment.
“Truly a sad day for World of Warcraft players and Blizzard Entertainment fans everywhere,” someone wrote online. “The sudden shutdown is a stark reminder of the impermanence that has displaced millions of players. »
– With the help of Cathy Chan.
(Updates with player feedback all the time)
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