After fourteen years, Blizzard's partnership with Chinese publisher NetEase ended. As the companies could not agree to continue their joint venture, Blizzard shut down its game servers in China.
Gamers in China are currently unable to access their accounts in a number of games including World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, Overwatch 2, and Diablo III. Even a VPN cannot help them here -- using this network, players can access Blizzard games in other regions, but the local servers are down, and along with their accounts, gamers have lost their characters and all game progress, and, of course, all the money invested in the games.
According to Noob Club, frustrated gamers have even organized virtual ceremonies to say goodbye to their characters and favorite games. And there are a lot of disappointed gamers in China. For example, at least 3 million Chinese played World of Warcraft.
Speaking to The Guardian, a Blizzard China spokesperson said that the servers in China have been shut down not permanently, but only temporarily. According to him, all user accounts will be restored when/if the games are back to China.
Now, according to media reports, Blizzard is already in talks with several new potential partners in China to make the games available in the country again. Possible candidates include The9, which published World of Warcraft in China before NetEase.
Blizzard said it had asked NetEase to extend its contract for 6 months so that a new publisher could be found for that games, but the company refused it.
Meanwhile, the Call of Duty series games is still running in China because their publisher is Tencent, not NetEase. Diablo Immortal is also still running, as NetEase has a separate contract for this game that has not yet expired.