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BlizzardApr 10, 2024 9:00 am CT

NetEase, Blizzard, and Microsoft renew license agreement to bring WoW, Diablo, and other games back to China this summer

In November of 2022, Blizzard announced the suspension of game services in mainland China beginning January 23, 2023 licensing agreements with NetEase expired. Since then affected players have been unable to play World of Warcraft, Diablo, StarCraft, Hearthstone,  Overwatch 2, and Heroes of the Storm. Now, almost a year and a half later, Blizzard, Microsoft Gaming, and NetEase have announced that they’ve reached a renewed publishing deal to bring these games back to players in mainland China sometime this summer.

The US press release doesn’t go into many details as to when this summer these games will be available again but that the plan is to share launch details soon. NetEase confirmed the partnership agreement has already been signed, but the company will need time for technical preparations like rebuilding the server room and restoring data. Because of this, the games will return in sequence instead of all at once with the first returning game planned for this summer. Since this press release appeared on the Chinese World of Warcraft website, it’s likely the first game returning.

Most importantly, NetEase confirmed that players’ previous account data has been retained and should be available when Warcraft servers go live again in China. This is in part to warn players against potential scams but also likely to assuage any fears about starting all over again. But even coming back to characters just as they were, players in China will be behind the curve in Dragonflight: NetEase will offer ways to help players experience the activities and gain rewards they missed out on during Dragonflight, but we don’t know any details yet. To support the re-launch of WoW and presumably the other gaming titles, the team dedicated to the Chinese national server is working on more developed anti-cheat measures, community support, and cooperation strategies with their game dev partners.

Independent of Blizzard’s gaming franchises, Microsoft and NetEase also announced a plan to bring NetEase’s other gaming titles to the Xbox consoles and other platforms with more details in the future. There’s more information to learn regarding the re-launch strategy, timing, and other access questions and Microsoft, Blizzard, and NetEase share those details soon — we’ll let you know as soon as we know more.

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