Shares of Chinese internet technology company NetEase Inc. plunged in early trade in Hong Kong Thursday after Blizzard Entertainment said it would suspend some of its game services in China due to the expiry of current license agreements.
NetEase’s Hong Kong-listed shares
fell as much as 10% following the news. They were recently 9.2% lower at 103.30 Hong Kong dollars (US$13.20).
The two companies have had licensing agreements since 2008 covering the publication of Blizzard game titles in China, which are set to expire in January 2023.
The two parties haven’t reached a deal to renew the agreements in a way that is “consistent with Blizzard’s
operating principles and commitments to players and employees,” the U.S.-based game developer said in a release late Wednesday.
The game titles affected include World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, Warcraft III: Reforged, Overwatch, the StarCraft series, Diablo III, and Heroes of the Storm.
Diablo Immortal’s co-development and publishing is covered under a separate agreement between the two companies, it said.
Blizzard added that the company will suspend new sales in coming days and Chinese players will receive details of how this will work soon.
The game publisher is currently “looking for alternatives” to bring these games back to China-based players in the future, said Blizzard Entertainment president Mike Ybarra in the release.
The upcoming releases for titles such as World of Warcraft: Dragonflight, Hearthstone: March of the Lich King, and season 2 of Overwatch 2 will proceed later this year, the U.S.- based game company added.
Write to Yi Wei Wong at firstname.lastname@example.org