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Microsoft is bringing Blizzard games back to China, new deal struck with NetEase

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Microsoft and NetEase today announced a new partnership that will bring back Blizzard Entertainment games to players in mainland China. The "renewed publishing deal" will return games that were under the previous deal as well as new Blizzard titles that have released since then. This will include World of Warcraft, Heathstone, StarCraft, Overwatch 2, Diablo IV, and more.

Blizzard Entertainment and NetEase's relations famously broke down in 2022, one that had began in 2008. While Blizzard's statement on the breakup said it was due to license agreement negotiations falling through, NetEase President Simon Zhu was more frank and blamed "a jerk" at Activision Blizzard for damaging the longstanding partnership.

Now with Microsoft at the helm of Activision Blizzard following the massive $69 billion acquisition in 2023, it seems things are returning to normal. "After continuing discussions over the past year, both Blizzard Entertainment and NetEase are thrilled to align on a path forward to once again support players in mainland China and are proud to reaffirm their commitment to delivering exceptional gaming experiences," says the announcement.

“We at Blizzard are thrilled to reestablish our partnership with NetEase and to work together, with deep appreciation for the collaboration between our teams, to deliver legendary gaming experiences to players in China,” says President of Blizzard Entertainment Johanna Faries.

"Blizzard and NetEase have done incredible work to renew our commitment to players – Blizzard’s universes have been part of players’ lives in the region for many years," adds CEO of Microsoft Gaming Phil Spencer. "Returning Blizzard’s legendary games to players in China while exploring ways to bring more new titles to Xbox demonstrates our commitment to bringing more games to more players around the world."

Today's announcement also quietly confirmed that NetEase titles are being considered for release on Xbox platforms in the future as part of another agreement with Microsoft. While no games were named, the recently announced hero-shooter title Marvel Rivals now have a good chance to appear on Xbox consoles.

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