Blizzard calls NetEase refund lawsuit "disappointing and puzzling" as it dismisses a "persistent campaign" from its former partner

A dragon from World of Warcraft looks at another player riding a dragon
(Image credit: Blizzard)

Update: Activision Blizzard has responded to NetEase's reported complaint, saying that, while no lawsuit has been received, the developer believes no licensing agreements have been breached regardless.

"The terms NetEase appears to be complaining about reflect standard industry practice and have been mutually beneficial for years," Activision Blizzard tells GamesRadar+ in a statement. 

"While this persistent campaign by one former partner is disappointing and puzzling, it’s important to note that we have enjoyed nearly two decades of positive experiences operating in China, and remain committed to serving players and protecting their interests."

Original story: NetEase is reportedly suing Blizzard over refunds for discontinued games in China.

Last year in November, Blizzard announced games like World of Warcraft would be leaving China, due to the studio being unable to renew a licensing agreement with publisher NetEase. Later in January, after Blizzard-developed games had shut down in China, the developer claimed NetEase had rejected a deal to keep game servers alive in China.

Now, it's been reported that NetEase is suing Blizzard over player refunds for games that had their servers shut down earlier this year in January. As reported by WowHead, Chinese media outlet Sina Technology claims NetEase will sue Blizzard to the tune of roughly $43.5 million USD for compensation for refunds for Chinese players affected by the server closures.

The likes of World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, and Overwatch were all affected by the server shutdown earlier this year. Sina Technology reports that NetEase has actually already paid refunds to over one million Chinese players of Blizzard games seeking compensation (which NetEase is contractually obligated to do), but is apparently now seeking damages from Blizzard directly.

It's a bit of a messy situation, complicated by Blizzard's past claim that it was NetEase's fault that the licensing agreement wasn't renewed. There's currently no indication from Sina Technology as to whether the lawsuit against Blizzard has already been filed by NetEase, so there's no clue when an agreement could potentially be reached between the two sides.

China is a major games market for Blizzard. Last year, it was reported that simply delaying Diablo Immortal from launching in China was costing Blizzard millions each and every day. Considering this, it's easy to see why the failed licensing agreement could've potentially been hugely damaging for Blizzard.

If you missed it, it looks like World of Warcraft is getting a Diablo 4 event to coincide with the latter's launch later this year in June.

Hirun Cryer

Hirun Cryer is a freelance reporter and writer with Gamesradar+ based out of U.K. After earning a degree in American History specializing in journalism, cinema, literature, and history, he stepped into the games writing world, with a focus on shooters, indie games, and RPGs, and has since been the recipient of the MCV 30 Under 30 award for 2021. In his spare time he freelances with other outlets around the industry, practices Japanese, and enjoys contemporary manga and anime.

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