NetEase, itself headquartered in China, publishes Blizzard’s games in that county. This includes hits like Hearthstone, Overwatch, World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, and Diablo III. The partnership began in 2008.
The Chinese game industry is worth about $30 billion. This deal gives Blizzard access to a country with strict regulations for all media, including video games.
Last year, Blizzard announced that its partnership with NetEase was extending into game development. The two companies are working together on Diablo Immortal, a mobile take on the action role-playing game franchise. The announcement drew backlash from some fans, many of which were hoping for a Diablo IV for PC instead of a PC game. Others wrongly accused Diablo Immortal of being completely outsourced to NetEase and being a reskin of an existing NetEase action RPG for mobile.
Turbulence at Activision Blizzard
Times have been interesting for Blizzard. It has transitioned to a new president, with Blizzard co-founder Mike Morhaime stepping down late last year. J. Allen Brack, the former executive producer of World of Warcraft, replaced him. Blizzard also recently lost its chief financial officer.
Blizzard’s parent company, Activision, has also shuffled around leadership positions recently. And just yesterday, the company announced that it was ending its Destiny publishing partnership with Bungie, giving the rights of the franchise to the former Halo developer.
NetEase itself has a relationship with Bungie, with the two partnering together on a new game. NetEase invested $100 million in the project.