NetEase dissolves its team who handles Blizzard titles in China as the 14-year partnership of both companies comes to an end

NetEase disbands its local team who handles the operation for game titles licensed from US game publisher Blizzard Entertainment as both parties end one of the most profitable and long-lasting US-China business partnerships in the video gaming market. Take note that most information below came from sources who declined to be named as some information they gave was supposed to be private.

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Shanghai EaseNet Network Technology, the Shanghai-based affiliate of NetEase, is said to have laid off or arranged internal transfers for “most staff”. Shanghai EaseNet had no more than 100 people employed while it's still operational. However, most of them left the company once it became clear in November that both gaming giants won’t be renewing their 14-year licensing agreement but few of the technical staff were transferred to other teams in Shanghai.

Since there are only 100 people, the team was not considered a large department in NetEase. Most of the staff are operational personnel as the game development is still handled by Blizzard in the US. There are 10 members who stayed behind to handle the logistics of the game like the technical and customer service issues.

NetEase and Blizzard’s licensing agreement will end tomorrow and the online services of Blizzard titles – World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, Overwatch, Diablo III, StarCraft II, Warcraft III: Reforged and Heroes of the Storm – will end the day after in Mainland China.

However, there’s one Blizzard game that will still continue and that’s Diablo Immortal, which is a mobile title co-developed by NetEase and Blizzard. Since this game is managed by a team based in NetEase’s headquarters in Hangzhou, it maintains operations under a separate agreement and is unaffected by the job cuts that happened in Shanghai.

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With the dissolution of the Shanghain team, the speculations that Blizzard and NetEase might strike a last-minute deal is dissolved, as well. Last December, several Chinese companies sent their delegates to the US for talks to become partners with Blizzard as the California-based company is looking for some potential distribution partners in China. However, none were successful.

Shanghai EaseNet Network Technology was established in 2008, when NetEase and Blizzard signed an agreement that the former will pay royalty fees to the latter in exchange for the right to operate StarCraft II and Warcraft III in mainland China.
 

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