(CNN) – Millions of Chinese gamers have been left without access to the popular “World of Warcraft” franchise and other popular video games after Blizzard Entertainment’s servers in the country went offline after two decades.
The company’s services in China were suspended at midnight Tuesday (local time), marking the end of an era for fans, after a licensing agreement with its former local partner NetEase expired.
“World of Warcraft’, also known as ‘WoW’, is a massively multiplayer online game that allows users to fight monsters and go on expeditions in the medieval world of Azeroth.
Many gamers from all over the world have grown up with this huge success, also in China. In recent days, Chinese fans have taken to social media to express their disbelief at the loss of their longtime fan.
“When I woke up, I still didn’t want to accept it,” He said A user on Twitter’s Chinese platform Weibo, on Tuesday. “I cried all night in my sleep because the game stopped going online. I dreamed I was crying in the middle of class.”
another player described World of Warcraft as my first love.
“I really can’t get over it,” they wrote.
The suspension follows a bitter dispute between Blizzard, a unit of Activision Blizzard, and NetEase.
Foreign publishers must work with local partners to offer video games in China. However, last November, Blizzard and NetEase announce They will not renew license agreements that expired this month.
Those agreements have covered the publication of several Blizzard titles in mainland China, including “World of Warcraft,” “Hearthstone,” and “Diablo III” since 2008. In two separate statements at the time, both sides said they were unable to to do that. Reach a new agreement on the main terms, without going into details.
Now, the discussions seem to be getting more intense.
in Release Last Tuesday, Blizzard said it had contacted NetEase to request its “assistance in exploring an extension of the existing agreement by six months.”
The US company said it has implored NetEase to allow fans to continue playing without interruption, “based on our personal feelings as gamers, and the frustrations expressed to us by Chinese players.”
“Unfortunately, after talks resumed last week, NetEase has not accepted our extension proposal,” Blizzard said.
NetEase has been countered with his own statement last week.
In unusually terse comments, it accused the Chinese gaming and technology giant Blizzard of surprising it with its “surprising statement” and called the US company’s proposal “outrageous, inappropriate and not in line with business logic”.
NetEase also noted that Blizzard has “already begun the task of finding new partners” in China, which puts the Hangzhou-based company in an “unfair” position.
The public spat marked an unexpected turn in the 14-year partnership between the two companies.
Under a separate agreement, the companies are collaborating to develop and publish Diablo Immortal, another popular multiplayer game that allows users to slay demons in the ancient world. NetEase mentioned in November This cooperation will continue.
Blizzard said in December that “World of Warcraft” fans can make Support Record your game and make sure you save all progress while closing your deal and looking for a new partner.
This week’s shutdown was emotional, even for NetEase managers.
in Posted on LinkedIn On Monday, Simon Zhu, Head of Global Investments and Partnerships at NetEase Games, detailed how he grew up with Blizzard’s games in China, including the old “Warcraft” and “Diablo.”
“The Blizzard Games servers are only a few hours away from shutting down in China, which is a huge problem for Chinese gamers,” he wrote.
“Today is a very sad time to watch the servers shut down, and we don’t know how it will go in the future. It will be the biggest casualty of the players from China who live and breathe on those worlds.”
Activision Blizzard, which previously had another Chinese partner before partnering with NetEase, said it continues to search for a new distribution partner.
“Our commitment to gamers in mainland China remains strong, as we continue to work with Tencent to distribute ‘Call of Duty: Mobile’, as well as continue active discussions with potential partners to resume playing popular Blizzard franchises,” an Activision Blizzard spokesperson told CNN.
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