NetEase is now reportedly suing Blizzard following their China licensing split
NetEase is reportedly demanding compensation for unsold merchandise and refunds
NetEase has reportedly filed a lawsuit against Blizzard Entertainment, after the long-term partners ended their China licensing deal earlier this year.
Activision Blizzard, which had held licensing agreements with NetEase since 2008, pulled its games from the Chinese market in January.
The move left local players unable to access titles, including World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, Warcraft III: Reforged, Overwatch, the StarCraft series, Diablo 3, and Heroes of the Storm.
Now, according to Chinese publication Sina Technology (via WoWhead), NetEase has filed a lawsuit against Blizzard, seeking ¥300 million Yuan (roughly $43.5 million USD) to cover refunds for discontinued games and services.
NetEase is reportedly also demanding compensation for unsold merchandise inventory and deposits on undeveloped games, in addition to “unequal provisions favoring Blizzard Entertainment” in the licensing agreements between the pair.
VGC has asked NetEase for comment on this story.
Activision Blizzard provided the following comment on this story:
“We haven’t received the lawsuit yet, but we are confident we aren’t in breach of any licensing agreements. The terms NetEase appears to be complaining about reflect standard industry practice and have been mutually-beneficial for years.
“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.”
Days before Blizzard’s games went offline in China, NetEase tore down a World of Warcraft statue outside its headquarters in an apparent symbolic gesture aimed at Blizzard, and even streamed the demolition via one of its official game channels.
According to a New York Times report, simmering tensions between the long-term partners over a license renewal came to a head during a conference call last October.
During the conversation, which was conducted at times through translators, Activision executives reportedly felt that NetEase CEO William Ding had threatened to sway the Chinese government to either block or support Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard depending on the outcome of the negotiations.
Other sources told the publication that this had never been NetEase’s intention and was in fact simply a misunderstanding.