(CNN) — Millions of Chinese gamers were left without access to the iconic ‘World of Warcraft’ franchise and other popular video games as Blizzard Entertainment’s servers in the country went offline after two decades.
The company’s services in China were suspended at midnight (local time) on Tuesday after the licensing agreement with its former local partner NetEase expired, marking the end of an era for fans.
‘World of Warships‘, also known as ‘WoW’, is a popular online multiplayer game that allows users to fight monsters and go on adventures in the medieval world of Azeroth.
Many players from all over the world grew up with this great success, including in China. In recent days, Chinese fans took to social media to express their disbelief at the loss of their longtime entertainment.
“When I woke up, I didn’t want to accept it,” said A user on the Twitter-like Chinese platform Weibo on Tuesday. “I cried myself to sleep all night because the game went offline. I dreamed I was crying in the middle of class.”
Another player described “World of Warcraft” “My First Love”.
“I really can’t get over it,” they wrote.
The suspension follows a bitter dispute between Activision Blizzard and Blizzard, a division of NetEase.
Foreign publishers must work with local partners to deliver video games in China. However, last November, Blizzard and NetEase declared They won’t renew license agreements that expire this month.
Those deals cover the publishing of several popular Blizzard titles in mainland China since 2008, including ‘World of Warcraft,’ ‘Hearthstone,’ and ‘Diablo III.’ In separate statements at the time, both sides said they could not. A new covenant in key terms, without detail.
Now, the debate seems to have become more heated.
A liberation The Blizzard said last Tuesday that it had contacted NetEase “for their assistance in exploring a six-month extension of the current contract.”
“Based on our personal feelings as gamers and the frustration expressed to us by Chinese gamers, we have appealed to NetEase to allow fans to play without disruption,” the US company said.
“Unfortunately, after renegotiating last week, NetEase did not accept our extension proposal,” Blizzard said.
NetEase objected His own statement In the last week.
In unusually brief comments, Chinese gaming and technology giant Blizzard accused it of being surprised by its “sudden announcement” and called the US company’s proposal “rude, inappropriate and not in line with business logic”.
NetEase noted that Blizzard has already “started looking for new partners” in China, putting the Hangzhou-based company in an “unfair” position.
The public dispute marked an unexpected turn in the 14-year partnership between the two companies.
Under a separate agreement, the companies are collaborating to jointly develop and publish Diablo Immortal, another popular multiplayer game that allows users to slay monsters in an ancient world. As mentioned in NetEase November This collaboration will continue.
Blizzard said in December that ‘World of Warcraft’ fans could create a Backup Make sure all progress is saved in your game history and when you end your contract and look for a new partner.
The weekend was an emotional one, even for NetEase executives.
A Post on LinkedIn On Monday, Simon Zhu, head of global investments and partnerships at NetEase Games, described how he grew up with Blizzard games in China, including older titles ‘Warcraft’ and ‘Diablo’.
“It’s only a few hours until Blizzard Games servers shut down in China, and that’s a big deal for Chinese players,” he wrote.
“It’s a very sad time to see servers shut down today, we don’t know how things will be in the future. Players from China live in those worlds.”
Activision Blizzard, which had another Chinese partner before partnering with NetEase, said it was continuing its search for a new distribution partner.
“As we continue to work with Tencent to distribute ‘Call of Duty: Mobile,’ our commitment to gamers in mainland China remains strong, and we continue active discussions with potential partners to relaunch Blizzard’s iconic franchises,” an Activision Blizzard spokesperson said. told CNN.