World of Warcraft: The popular game to return to China

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China's NetEase and games publisher Activision Blizzard are ending their feud

  • author, Mariko Oi
  • stock, Business Correspondent

Popular games such as World of Warcraft will make a comeback in China this summer, according to Chinese video games company NetEase.

Last year, NetEase and game developer Activision Blizzard ended their 14-year partnership due to disagreements over intellectual property rights.

The breach prompted millions of Chinese internet users to complain that they could lose access to their favorite games.

All games are local publisher and require Chinese government license to operate there.

An earlier disagreement turned into an open feud, with both companies suing each other.

“We are extremely grateful for the interest the Chinese community has shown in Blizzard Games over the years,” said Johanna Faris, president of Blizzard Entertainment. said in a statement.

“We're focused on bringing our universes back to players at their best and most dedicated.”

Other Blizzard titles returning to China include Hearthstone, Warcraft, Overwatch, Diablo and StarCraft franchises.

China is the world's largest online gaming market, with domestic revenue up 13% to 303 billion yuan ($42bn; £33) at the end of last year.

NetEase is the country's second largest video game company by revenue after Tencent.

Microsoft and NetEase have said they have agreed to explore bringing new NetEase titles to Microsoft's Xbox gaming consoles and its other gaming platforms.

“Bringing back Blizzard's legendary games to players in China demonstrates our commitment to bringing more games to players around the world while exploring ways to bring more new titles to Xbox,” said Bill Spencer, CEO of Microsoft Gaming.

There are frequent run-ins with profit-seeking bureaucrats.

Beijing first moved against the gaming industry in 2021, ruling that online gamers under the age of 18 would only be allowed to play for one hour on Fridays, weekends and holidays.

Late last year, authorities announced more restrictions to curb game purchases, but the regulator appears to have rolled back China's stricter rules to combat “obsessed” gaming.

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