World Of Warcraft among top games going offline in China – forcing millions of players to say goodbye | Science & Tech News

World of Warcraft, one of the most important online games in history, is going offline in China today.

Millions of players will be forced to bid an emotional farewell to their iconic characters as a 14-year deal between developer Blizzard and publisher NetEase comes to an end.

Warcraft, which was first released in North America in 2004, was initially allowed to launch in the notoriously restrictive China. Gaming Back on the market in 2005.

Since 2008, Blizzard’s massively multiplayer title has taken over its servers China by NetEase, which also runs default versions of a few other popular Western games such as Minecraft.

Blizzard – owned by Activision Blizzard, Gaming giant Microsoft is trying to be bought in a record $69bn (£56bn) takeover deal. – previously announced that its contract with NetEase would expire last November.

This affects not only Warcraft, which has an estimated three million players in China, but other Blizzard hits such as multiplayer shooters. Overwatchthe card game Hearthstone, and the sci-fi strategy title Starcraft.

For the Overwatch 2 story by gaming reporter, Martin Kimber.  Photo provided by Martin Kimber.  Uploaded on 03/10/22.  Image: Activation Blizzard
Overwatch is also going offline in China. Image: Activation Blizzard

Ugly conflict becomes commonplace.

NetEase’s president of global investments, Simon Zhou, said he had spent “10,000 hours” playing the games and the breakup was a damning statement.

“One day, when what goes on behind the scenes can be revealed, developers and gamers will have a whole new level of understanding of how much damage a single shock can do,” he wrote on LinkedIn.

NetEase rejected an offer to extend the contract by six months earlier this month, calling the proposal “commercially illogical” and accusing Blizzard of “staying attached despite an attempted divorce”.

Citing a person close to Blizzard, news agency Reuters reported that the dispute was for NetEase to seek structural changes that would affect the US firm’s control over its intellectual property.

NetEase insisted that “any use and licensing of Blizzard’s IP was done in accordance with the terms of the agreement and with Blizzard’s consent and approval during the 14-year agreement”.

The companies previously renewed their initial 2008 agreement in 2019.

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Activision Blizzard Inc.  A campus entrance is shown in Irvine, California, US, on August 6, 2019.  REUTERS/Mike Blake
Activision Blizzard is based in California.

Players were invited to play roles on the ice.

Ahead of the deal ending on Monday, Blizzard took the unusual step of allowing its Chinese Warcraft players to download their characters and progress, which for some would take thousands upon thousands of hours.

If Blizzard finds a new distribution partner in China, one of the most lucrative markets in the world, their data will be able to be uploaded back into the game. Despite the restrictions imposed by the government.

NetEase’s rise to become China’s second-largest gaming company has been largely driven by its partnership with Blizzard, but its own titles now account for more than 60% of its revenue.

The country’s industry leader is Tencent, which – as well as making its own games – owns US gaming giant Riot, the firm behind it. League of Legends; And big Western developers like Fortnite maker Epic and Assassin’s Creed creators Ubisoft are at stake.

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