The American video game giant Blizzard Entertainment has announced that it will suspend most of its activities in China for lack of renewal of an agreement with its historic local partner on the world’s largest market.
Blizzard has had a presence in China since 2008 through a collaboration with Chinese internet giant NetEase. The latter made no immediate comment but his share lost more than 10% on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange
The American group based in California is at the origin of very successful series of games like “World of Warcraft”, “Overwatch” and “Diablo”.
The current contracts between Blizzard and NetEase run until January 2023.
But Blizzard said the two groups had “not reached an agreement” for the continuation of their partnership in China.
“We will suspend sales in the coming days and Chinese players will receive detailed information soon,” Blizzard said in a statement on Wednesday.
The group nevertheless confirmed the releases this year of the games “World of Warcraft: Dragonflight”, “Hearthstone: March of the Lich King” and the second installment of “Overwatch”.
The Chinese group is due to unveil its quarterly results later today.
Video games, which represent an important financial windfall in China, have been in the crosshairs of the authorities since last year.
Restrictions have thus been imposed on those under 18, with a limit of three hours of practice per week for online games, in order to fight against addiction among the youngest.
In July 2021, Beijing froze all new game release authorizations for nine months, which weighed heavily on the profitability of the sector.
Licensing resumed in April, however, and NetEase got its first shot in September.