Blizzard’s titles have been pulled from sale in China due to the company’s partner in the region, NetEase, failing to reach a license renewal agreement. In a statement provided to Dexerto by an OWL spokesperson, this development will impact players in China.
Players in China will not be able to purchase any Blizzard titles including Overwatch 2, World of Warcraft, StarCaraft, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm and Diablo.
In a statement on LinkedIn, NetEase’s President and head of Global Investment and Partnership Simon Zhu said that he was “heartbroken” that he and others in the country will not be able to play Blizzard titles while also throwing shade at Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick.
“One day, when what has happened behind the scene could be told, developers and gamers will have a whole new level of understanding of how much damage a jerk can make,” Zhu said. “Feel terrible for players who lived in those worlds.”
For how this will impact OWL players in China, an OWL spokesperson told Dexerto that Blizzard is looking for alternatives to NetEase and that it could impact the future of the esport in the region.
“Without a local partner to operate Blizzard games in China Blizzard will be suspending service and support for our Blizzard games when our licensing agreements with NetEase expires on Jan. 23, 2023. As Blizzard explores alternatives to NetEase there could be an impact to the future of our esports business in the region,” an OWL spokesperson said.
“As we examine options, we are prioritizing our Chinese employees, along with our OWL teams and players.”
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OWL players in China cannot purchase game
The OWL is currently in its offseason period. Teams are letting go of players and getting ready to sign new rosters for the 2023 season. While the current news won’t impact Chinese players, or the four Chinese OWL teams, immediately, it could cost players opportunities with teams in the future as the offseason ramps up.
If Blizzard does not find a new company to pick up its licensing agreement in China, it could have deeper ramifications for the 2023 season of OWL. One of the four Chinese teams, Shanghai Dragons, is owned by NetEase.
OWL is considering moving the APAC teams to Korea to have them play on LAN, according to Overwatch insider Halo.