NetEase is clearly not thrilled with Blizzard's decision about (temporarily) leaving the Chinese market. NetEase itself rejected the six-month extension agreement and responded sharply to the US developer's announcement from the day before yesterday. Not only in writing - the company eliminated not only its offices run as part of the deal with Blizzard, but also the orc statue from World of Warcraft.
NetEase demolishes Chinese orc
By no means was this a discreet operation. The event was broadcast on Chinese social media and - as reported by Wowhead - it was watched by some 30,000 Internet users.
As if that wasn't enough, participants in the demolition were treated to a new product from the official NetEase cafe: Blizzard green tea. It's a reference to a Chinese insult that gained popularity in 2013. Green Tea Bitch (luchabiao) refers to a person (usually a girl) posing as "sweet and innocent," but in reality being shallow and calculating (Yabla.com).
As you can see, NetEase does not hide its negative emotions toward Blizzard. In earlier statement the Chinese publisher described the decision of the makers of Warcraft as "commercially illogical" and their attitude as "seeking to divorce but remain attached."
Meanwhile, back in November Simon Zhu (NetEase's director of partnerships) stated bitterly that one day developers and players would learn "how much damage a jerk can do" (which may have referred to Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick).
According to Reuters the bone of contention was commercial issues, but this has not been confirmed by Blizzard.
World of Warcraft at home
The end of Blizzard's partnership with NetEase means that after January 23, most Blizzard games will become unavailable to Chinese players. This includes World of Warcraft, which, however, may soon see local replacements.
As early as early January Tencent presented the first trailer for its own MMORPG titled Tarisland. The game immediately evoked associations with WoW, not least because of the use of a somewhat cartoonish visual style instead of the more realistic graphics known from many Chinese MMO games.
Three-minute trailer of Tarisland shows something of the game's titular world, including the inhabitants and their enemies. We'll face off against demons and dragons, one of which appears to be inspired by Warcraft's Deathwing.
On top of that, some of the dragons can be mounted, which is certainly not even remotely, no sir, related to the mechanic from the latest DLC for World of Warcraft, which delighted Azeroth fans.
Will Tencent replace Blizzard's games?
Leaving aside the (not necessarily) discrete Asian imitators, Tencent will fill the gap left by Blizzard games in other ways as well. In December, the Chinese government approved - for the first time since 2021 - Western games for release in the country.
Among the 44 titles that will come to China are Valorant and Lost Ark. Both titles will be published by Tencent and may be able to occupy the niche vacated by Overwatch 2 and Diablo III. Especially Valorant, which has a well-developed esports scene.
The question is, how many players are we talking about? Blizzard claimed, that earnings from China represent a small percentage of the company's revenue (3% in the third quarter of fiscal 2022). However, leaving of the local market is still expected to mean a loss of more than a billion players for Blizzard (although it's unclear whether this includes the community of Diablo Immortal, which will remain on the Chinese market for the time being).
It should also be added that according to Blizzard, it is not so much leaving China as suspending operations in the country. The company is already looking around for a new partner that could publish its games in the country.