Things took a turn for the worse for those hoping for a positive outcome in the ongoing drama between Activision Blizzard and NetEase. The World of Warcraft publisher announced in November 2022 that it would be pulling most of its titles from NetEase in January 2023, and as if to pour salt over the wound it made an offer that NetEase staff was all too happy to refuse. Eurogamer has reported that Activision Blizzard is seeking a new partner in China but while doing so it has reportedly offered NetEase a six-month extension to the current contract which led NetEase staff to destroy a giant World of Warcraft statue that was outside their studio. The event was captured by onlookers and streamed on social media.
A War of Words
NetEase staff has also posted the following statement regarding the matter:
“For unknowable reasons, last week Blizzard re-sought NetEase with an offer of a so-called six-month extension of the game service and other conditions, and made it clear that it would not stop continuing negotiations with other potential partners during the contract extension,
As far as we know, Blizzard’s negotiations with other companies during the same period were all based on a three-year contract period. Considering the non-reciprocity, unfairness, and other conditions attached to the cooperation, therefore, the parties could not reach an agreement in the end.
In our view, Blizzard’s proposal – including [its] surprise announcement – is brash, unseemly, and commercially illogical. Its overconfidence does not take into account where players and NetEase have been placed by this kind of demand everything, riding a mule while looking for a horse, and ‘divorce but still try to live together’ behaviour.”
Evidently, the pot started to boil over very quickly following Activision Blizzard’s original November announcement that it would not be renewing its contract with NetEase. Simon Zhu (NetEase president of global investment and partnership) responded the very next morning with a post on Linkedin and put the blame on an unnamed jerk.
“As a gamer who spent ten thousand hours in the world of Azeroth, starcraft and overwatch, I feel so heartbroken as I will not longer have the access to my account and memories next year.
One day, when what has happened behind the scene could be told, developers and gamers will have a whole new level understanding of how much damage a jerk can make.
Feel terrible for players who lived in those worlds.“
Former COO at Blizzard Entertainment Paul Sams replied in support of NetEase and gave praise to the company.
“The news about Blizzard and NetEase not being able to come to terms on continuing their relationship in China hit me very hard this morning. As the former 20-year c-suite executive at Blizzard who ultimately owned all global go-to-market activities and drove the company’s global expansion during that time period, this outcome is heartbreaking for both me and Blizzard’s incredible and loyal player community in China.
In my experience, NetEase is exceptional in regard to their overall abilities, integrity, fairness, commitment to quality, deep player insights, commitment to partners, and unwavering and relentless commitment to delivering a great experience for their player community. I feel so bad for them and for all of the Chinese players who will suffer from this outcome. I hope and pray that my old friends and colleagues at Blizzard find a way to reconcile with NetEase in order to put their players first in this decision.“