Major video game developer Blizzard Entertainment is set to exit China after failing to renew its contract with Chinese provider NetEase.
This means that players residing in the country will need to connect to the best Chinese VPN services to continue playing World of Warcraft, Hearthstone or Starcraft.
The news comes as a subsidiary of US video game giant Activision Blizzard reported that NetEase has refused to renew a 14-year licensing deal that is about to expire, allowing Blizzard’s games to be distributed in mainland China.
Diablo Immortal will be the only game released under a separate deal. Other titles will not be available to users connecting within the country from January 23rd.
Following an update from Blizzard Entertainment lamenting its inability to negotiate a six-month extension before Blizzard’s games shut down in China, NetEase issued a fiery response and tore down a local Orc statue live on stream. pic.twitter.com/AfOe9rEiGsJanuary 18, 2023
Tensions are rising between Blizzard and NetEase
“Unfortunately, NetEase is unwilling to extend the service for six months based on the terms of the existing partnership while we are looking for a new partner” video game provider announced (opens in a new tab) via his Weibo page on January 17.
Both NetEase and Blizzard Entertainment first announced the end of the trade deal last November. Blizzard reported that it was trying to negotiate an extension for another six months, time to look for another partner and continue distribution. NetEase refused.
“We will not give up and will continue to do our best for everyone. We want you to understand that this is not over yet. We will continue to try to find a domestic partner who shares our beliefs,” Blizzard assures users.
IN fast response (opens in a new tab)NetEase lamented that a six-month extension deal had been proposed just a week earlier, describing such a move as “unequal” and “unfair”.
“In our opinion, Blizzard’s proposal – including today’s surprise – is audacious, inappropriate and commercially illogical,” NetEase wrote, describing behavior such as “riding a mule in search of a horse, getting divorced, but still trying to live together.”
The China-based game distributor also denied speculation about wanting to take control of Blizzard’s IP addresses, promising to do its best to serve users to the end.
Some of the games that will be affected include World of Warcraft, World of Warcraft 3: Reforged, Diablo 3, Overwatch 1 and 2, Heroes of the Storm, the Starcraft series and Hearthstone.
Blizzard Entertainment said it’s still looking for a partner, but experts do not expect (opens in a new tab) titles to be released at any time this year due to a stringent regulatory process.
In the meantime, Blizzard developers advise Chinese players to back up all their data so that their game progress is stored until the next release.
How a Chinese VPN can help
As mentioned above, players playing in mainland China will need to use a VPN service to continue playing all of their favorite Blizzard games.
A VPN is software capable of spoofing users’ IP addresses. This is because your internet traffic will appear to come from one of the many international servers. Players can then trick their ISP into thinking they are in a completely different country within seconds.
A gaming VPN is even advantageous in terms of performance. Being able to switch between different servers can help them avoid ISP throttling, for example, and increase ping rates.
Besides, however, the use of such security software is also recommended for everyday use. For people living in countries like China, it is almost a necessity.
For example, a spoofed browsing location is necessary to access a long list of censored sites. By encrypting all data leaving your device, a VPN is also needed to avoid online surveillance.