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Blizzard Entertainment and NetEase said they will bring Heroes of the Storm to Chinese online gamers.
The move is a big one since China is the biggest market for PC online gaming, and all of Blizzard’s big hits have been blockbusters in the Asian market.
Under the three-year deal, Blizzard will partner with NetEase to publish the fantasy multiplayer online battle arena game — which competes with League of Legends and Dota2 — through a joint venture in mainland China. Under the Chinese government’s rules, foreign game companies have to find a Chinese partner before they can publish their games for the PC in China.
Blizzard already has deals in place for its previous games such as World of Warcraft, StarCraft, and Diablo. The characters from those games are the heroes in its newest online team brawler, which was formally unveiled in November at the BlizzCon event.
The MOBA genre has become white-hot in the past few years as players have enthusiastically embraced the fast-pace games. Professional gamers have helped turn the category into a huge market with celebrity players and spectator events.
Heroes of the Storm is the fourth game that NetEase and Blizzard have brought to China since 2008. They have worked previously on World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, and Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. Those titles have millions of fans in China.
“Heroes of the Storm offers our unique spin on a popular online game genre, with iconic Blizzard heroes and multiple unique battlegrounds that affect strategy and gameplay,” said Mike Morhaime, CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. “We’re pleased to expand our partnership with NetEase to bring this game to Chinese players.”
“We are very excited to be presenting another hotly-anticipated Blizzard game to Chinese players,” said William Ding, CEO and founder of NetEase, in a statement.
He added, “We believe Chinese gamers will enjoy the amazing content and quality of Heroes of the Storm and its focus on team battles. We’re working closely with Blizzard to prepare everything needed for launching Heroes of the Storm in China, and we look forward to providing players with the best possible service.”
The official Chinese web site for Heroes of the Storm is now live, but the game is still in closed beta testing. The open beta testing and formal launch date will be announced later.