A game license agreement between Blizzard and NetEase will expire on January 23, and Blizzard has decided not to renew it. On January 17, a week before Blizzard’s games would stop being available in China, Blizzard China said that it discussed with NetEase again last week to postpone the existing agreement for six months, and made it clear that it would not stop negotiating with other potential partners during the contract extension period. NetEase did not accept the proposal, and the news invited widespread criticism from Chinese web users.
One game player expressed anger in the comments area of Blizzard’s post on Weibo, writing, “Blizzard unilaterally terminated the contract. Now it asks NetEase to operate games for another half a year, so it can find another partner.” Another wrote, “NetEase‘s teams responsible for Blizzard’s games are disbanded. Just two weeks before the agreement termination, Blizzard wanted to postpone the agreement. Can’t Blizzard act early for the sake of the players?” Finally, another wrote, “I am relieved to see that everyone is scolding Blizzard.”
Late at night on January 17, NetEase published a response: “For unknown reasons, Blizzard sought NetEase again last week, put forward the proposal of extending the so-called game service for six months and other conditions, and made it clear that it would not stop negotiating with other potential partners during the contract extension period. Blizzard’s negotiations with other companies were all based on the three-year contract period. Considering the unequal, unfair and other conditions attached to the cooperation, the two sides failed to reach an agreement in the end.”
“Blizzard’s proposal, including sudden statements, is outrageous, inappropriate and inconsistent with business logic. Its excessive self-confidence shows that it wants to take whatever it wants, and maintain a job while looking for a better one,” NetEase added.
“Blizzard China issued a document again” and “Blizzard Green Tea” both appeared on Weibo’s top trendings topics list yesterday. “Green Tea” is slang for Chinese girls (and others) who pretend to be sweet and innocent but actually are dishonest. People may have been encouraged to adopt this statement after seeing innocent-looking female models in green tea advertising to represent the purity of the product. Netizens said that Blizzard put most of the responsibility for stopping game services in China on the agent NetEase, and acted like a victim.
Some web users revealed that the self-operated coffee shop of NetEase launched drinks named “Blizzard Green Tea” with a price tag of 13 yuan ($1.92) and “Blizzard Unhappy” for 28 yuan. A NetEase menu circulated online contains all kinds of fresh green vegetables to be consistent with the menu in coffee shops.
As for the rumor that NetEase wants IP control, leading to the collapse of talks between the two parties, NetEase said that, as an agent company, it never sought IP control of Blizzard games or other partners. In the long-term cooperation process of the past 14 years, NetEase used and authorized any Blizzard IP in accordance with the terms of the contract, and obtained the consent and approval of Blizzard.
In addition, Blizzard mentioned that it will launch a game progress archiving function for World of Warcraft players on January 18. NetEase said that this function was unilaterally proposed and developed by Blizzard, and that it has not been tested and used by NetEase, so there may be some unknown potential safety hazards.