Over 1 million Chinese players apply for refunds due to expiration of Blzzard's agreement with NetEase

As the future of Blizzard games in China remains hazy, local players have started applying for refunds for unused in-app purchases. NetEase, which was responsible for operating these products in the country, explained how users can claim their money back.

1 million Chinese players apply for refunds for Blizzard games

What happened?

  • A number of Chinese media outlets noticed that on February 1, NetEase launched a special refund application channel for local players.
  • According to the company’s official statement, refunds are open for users who have purchased but not used virtual currency in Blizzard games, including World of Warcraft, Overwatch, and Hearthstone.
  • The list of refundable items excludes free gifts and rewards obtained by players. Holders of accounts with security risks are also not eligible to participate in the program.
  • Players must submit their applications before June 30. Otherwise, they will no longer be able to claim their money.
  • According to GameLook, the number of users queuing for refunds has already surpassed 1 million. The amounts are usually between 100 and 300 yuan ($14.8-44.5).

 Timeline of Blizzard’s relationship with NetEase

  • Blizzard and NetEase first made a long-term licensing deal in 2008 and renewed it in 2019. For all these years, the Chinese tech giant has been publishing and operating WoW, Warcraft III: Reforged, Overwatch, Diablo III, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, and the StarCraft series in the country.
  • NetEase also had to make sure that all Blizzard products met China’s strict policies, as well as adjust in-game content to comply with censorship requirements.
  • Under this agreement, the publisher obtained IP ownership of local versions of Blizzard titles and controled the data of millions of Chinese players.
  • In November 2022, the deal expired as the two companies failed to agree on new terms. As a result, all in-app purchases were suspended and all games services went offline last month.
  • Shortly after the split, Blizzard started looking for a new publisher in China. According to some reports, the studio recently entered the final stages of negotiations with a potential partner (Tencent, Perfect World, and ByteDance are named among candidates).
  • Blizzard also asked NetEase to extend the expired agreement for another six months so that Chinese players can continue to play its games.
  • However, NetEase called this proposal “outrageous, inappropriate, and not in line with business logic.” The company also accused Blizzard of not considering the interests of local gamers.
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