US-based video game developer Blizzard on January 20 released competition rules for this year’s Hearthstone tournament, showing that players in mainland China will not be able to participate. If they have already found partners for the competition, Blizzard will reevaluate their qualifications.
The announcement also shows that the scale of the Heartstone e-sports competition will be reduced in 2023, and only three online master tournaments without prizes will be retained throughout the year. Only 16 contestants will participate in the 2023 Hearthstone World Championship, and the top eight will share a prize pool totaling $500,000.
Regarding the matter, Blizzard said in an FAQ list that the sharp reduction of the competition scale and bonus pool has nothing to do with its recent termination of an agreement with Chinese game developer NetEase. Before Blizzard ended the cooperation, according to the firm, it had already begun to evaluate the scale of the event.
Blizzard’s move triggered dissatisfaction among many Chinese players, and some netizens commented, “What are Blizzard arrogant about?”; “I originally wanted to continue playing Blizzard’s games later, and now I won’t.”; “Chinese players just lost a game, and it is a very old game, and Blizzard lost the whole Chinese market.”
In Blizzard’s statement from November 17 last year, as the existing license agreement with NetEase will expire on January 23, 2023, games including World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, Warcraft III: Reforged, Overwatch, the StarCraft series, Diablo III, and Heroes of the Storm, will soon be discontinued in China.
Hearthstone has been officially selected for an e-sports event at the 19th Asian Games in 2022, and medals won by e-sports players from all over the world will be directly included in the national or regional medal list.
In fact, domestic games are gradually rising. In January 2023, a total of 88 domestic games successfully obtained approval. Since 2022, the issuance of game approvals has gradually become normal.
The actual sales revenue of self-developed games in the domestic market in 2022 is 222.377 billion yuan ($32 billion), and that in overseas markets is $17.346 billion, according to data from a Chinese game committee.
Economic View quoted a senior researcher from Pangoal Thinktank as saying, “In recent years, the rise of miHoYo’s’ Genshin Impact actually represents that the games made by China have a place in the market and even have strong market competitiveness, which is very difficult. For Chinese game manufacturers, what they need most is to have their own game and R&D capabilities, so that they can occupy more market share globally.”