Millions of Chinese gamers are losing access to the iconic “World of Warcraft” series and other popular video games as Blizzard Entertainment’s servers in China go offline after 20 years.
The company’s services in China were suspended at midnight local time on Tuesday after a licensing deal with longtime local partner NetEase expired, marking the end of the era of fans.
“World of Warcraft”, also known as “World of Warcraft”, is a very popular online multiplayer game that allows users to fight monsters and explore in the medieval world of Azeroth.
Many gamers around the world grew up with the smash hit, including in China. That point has been underscored in recent days as Chinese fans voiced their doubts about the loss of the longtime pastime in social media posts.
“When I woke up, I still didn’t want to accept [it]”I cried all night in my sleep because the game was offline,” one user said on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform, on Tuesday. I dreamed that I was crying in class. “
Another player described World of Warcraft as “my first love”.
“I literally can’t get it out of my head,” they wrote.
The suspension follows a bitter dispute between Activision Blizzard-owned Blizzard and NetEase.
Foreign publishers must work with local partners to offer video games in China. However, last November, Blizzard and NetEase announced that they would not renew their license agreement, which was due to expire this month.
The deals cover several of Blizzard’s most popular titles released in mainland China since 2008, including World of Warcraft, Hearthstone and Diablo III. In separate statements at the time, both sides said they could not reach an agreement to reach a new deal on key terms, but gave no further details.
Now, the discussions seem to be getting more heated.
In a statement last Tuesday, Blizzard said it had reached out to NetEase seeking “their assistance in exploring a six-month extension of the current agreement.”
The U.S. company said it had called on NetEase to allow fans to continue playing uninterrupted “based on our personal feelings as gamers and the frustration expressed to us by Chinese players.”
“Unfortunately, NetEase did not accept our offer of an extension following renegotiations last week,” Blizzard said.
NetEase hit back last week with a statement of its own.
In unusually terse comments, the Chinese tech and gaming giant accused Blizzard of blinding it with its “sudden statement” and called the American company’s proposal “outrageous, inappropriate and illogical “.
NetEase also noted that Blizzard had “started work on finding new partners” in China, putting the Hangzhou-based company in an “unfair” position.
The public spat marked an unexpected turn in the two companies’ 14-year partnership.
Under a separate agreement, the two companies are co-developing and publishing Diablo Immortal, another popular multiplayer game that allows users to slay demons in an ancient world. The partnership will continue, NetEase said in a statement in November.
snowstorm World of Warcraft fans will be able to back up their game history and ensure all progress is saved when the agreement ends and a new partner is found, said in December.
This week’s shutdown has been emotional, even for NetEase’s top leadership.
In a LinkedIn post on Monday, NetEase Games president of global investment and partnerships Simon Zhu detailed how he grew up with Blizzard games in China, including earlier Warcraft and Diablo titles.
“only [a] A few hours before Blizzard game servers shut down in China, this is a very, very important thing for Chinese players,” he wrote.
“It’s such a sad time to witness the server shutdown today, we don’t know how the future holds. The biggest victims will be the Chinese players who live and breathe those worlds.”
Activision Blizzard, which had another Chinese partner before its tie-up with NetEase, said it was continuing to find a new distribution partner.
“Our commitment to mainland Chinese players remains An Activision Blizzard spokesperson told CNN that we continue to partner with Tencent on the distribution of Call of Duty: Mobile and continue to be in active talks with potential partners to restore gameplay to Blizzard’s iconic franchise.