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Blizzard Entertainment and NetEase Renew Agreement to Bring Beloved Titles Back to China; Microsoft Gaming, NetEase Enter Broader Collaboration

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Blizzard Entertainment, Microsoft Gaming, and NetEase announce the return of beloved video game titles to mainland China in a renewed publishing deal starting summer 2024. The partnership aims to deliver exceptional gaming experiences to players across platforms and markets.
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The announcement of Blizzard Entertainment's video game titles returning to mainland China represents a strategic move with significant implications for the gaming industry. The partnership between Blizzard, Microsoft Gaming and NetEase indicates a concerted effort to penetrate the Chinese market, which is one of the largest in the world for video games. The re-entry of these games could lead to a substantial increase in revenue for all companies involved, considering the previous popularity of titles like World of Warcraft and Hearthstone among Chinese players.

Moreover, the collaboration to explore bringing new NetEase titles to Xbox could diversify the gaming experiences available on Microsoft's platform, potentially attracting a broader audience. This move may also be indicative of Microsoft's strategy to enhance its presence in the Chinese market, where console gaming is growing but still lags behind mobile and PC gaming. The long-term implications could include increased market share and brand loyalty within this demographic.

The renewal of the publishing agreement between Blizzard and NetEase, covering popular franchises such as the Warcraft, Overwatch, Diablo and StarCraft universes, highlights the enduring appeal of these intellectual properties. The strategic partnership leverages the strengths of both companies: Blizzard's strong IP and game development expertise and NetEase's local market knowledge and distribution network. The return of these games could also lead to a resurgence of esports and related industries in China.

It's important to note, however, that the gaming industry in China is subject to stringent regulatory environments and the success of this partnership will depend on navigating these challenges effectively. The companies' ability to comply with local regulations and adapt to the preferences of Chinese gamers will be critical in realizing the full potential of this venture.

From a financial perspective, the partnership between Blizzard, Microsoft Gaming and NetEase is likely to have a positive impact on the earnings of all companies involved. The previous absence of Blizzard's titles in China may have created pent-up demand, which could translate into strong sales upon their return. Investors should monitor the uptake of these games post-launch as an indicator of the partnership's success.

Additionally, the deal to bring new NetEase titles to Xbox consoles could open up revenue streams for Microsoft in the form of licensing fees, game sales and subscription services. This diversification is particularly beneficial for Microsoft as it seeks to expand its gaming ecosystem globally. The financial health of NetEase, as reflected in its stock performance on NASDAQ and HKEX, may also see a positive trajectory as a result of these developments.

Blizzard titles to return to mainland China beginning summer 2024

Microsoft Gaming and NetEase deepen their relationship, with a strategic partnership based on their shared desire to bring new gaming experiences to players across platforms and markets

IRVINE, Calif. & REDMOND, Wash. & HANGZHOU, China--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Beloved video game titles from Blizzard Entertainment that captivated millions of players in China will return to the market sequentially, beginning this summer, under a renewed publishing deal Blizzard Entertainment, Microsoft Gaming, and NetEase (NASDAQ: NTES and HKEX: 9999) announced today.

William Ding (CEO and Director, NetEase), Johanna Faries (President, Blizzard Entertainment), Phil Spencer (CEO, Microsoft Gaming) (Photo: Business Wire)

William Ding (CEO and Director, NetEase), Johanna Faries (President, Blizzard Entertainment), Phil Spencer (CEO, Microsoft Gaming) (Photo: Business Wire)

After continuing discussions over the past year, both Blizzard Entertainment and NetEase are thrilled to align on a path forward to once again support players in mainland China and are proud to reaffirm their commitment to delivering exceptional gaming experiences.

The renewed publishing agreement will encompass games Chinese players had access to under the previous agreement: World of Warcraft®, Hearthstone®, and other titles in the Warcraft®, Overwatch®, Diablo®, and StarCraft® universes. Building upon more than 15 years of past collaboration, Blizzard and NetEase are working diligently on relaunch plans, with further details to be shared at a later date.

Separately, Microsoft Gaming and NetEase have also entered into an agreement to explore bringing new NetEase titles to Xbox consoles and other platforms.

“We at Blizzard are thrilled to reestablish our partnership with NetEase and to work together, with deep appreciation for the collaboration between our teams, to deliver legendary gaming experiences to players in China,” said Johanna Faries, President of Blizzard Entertainment. “We are immensely grateful for the passion the Chinese community has shown for Blizzard games throughout the years, and we are focused on bringing our universes back to players with excellence and dedication.”

“Celebrating our collaborations, we are thrilled to embark on the next chapter, built on trust and mutual respect, to serve our users in this unique community that we’ve built together.” said William Ding, Chief Executive Officer and Director, NetEase. “Our commitment to providing more exhilarating and creative entertainment experience remains unwavering, and we are excited to see positive synergies fostered to encourage and empower collaborations to bring the joy of gaming to a broad community.”

“Blizzard and NetEase have done incredible work to renew our commitment to players – Blizzard’s universes have been part of players’ lives in the region for many years. Returning Blizzard’s legendary games to players in China while exploring ways to bring more new titles to Xbox demonstrates our commitment to bringing more games to more players around the world,” said Phil Spencer, CEO of Microsoft Gaming.

About Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.

Best known for iconic video game universes including Warcraft®, Overwatch®, Diablo®, and StarCraft®, Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. (www.blizzard.com), a division of Activision Blizzard, which was acquired by Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), is a premier developer and publisher of entertainment experiences. Blizzard Entertainment has created some of the industry’s most critically acclaimed and genre-defining games over the last 30 years, with a track record that includes multiple Game of the Year awards. Blizzard Entertainment engages tens of millions of players around the world with titles available on PC via Battle.net®, Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, iOS, and Android.

About Microsoft

Microsoft (NASDAQ “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

About NetEase, Inc.

NetEase, Inc. (NASDAQ: NTES and HKEX: 9999, "NetEase") is a leading internet and game services provider centered around premium content. With extensive offerings across its expanding gaming ecosystem, the Company develops and operates some of the most popular and longest running mobile and PC games available in China and globally.

Powered by one of the largest in-house game R&D teams focused on mobile, PC and console, NetEase creates superior gaming experiences, inspires players, and passionately delivers value for its thriving community worldwide. By infusing play with culture, and education with technology, NetEase transforms gaming into a meaningful vehicle to build a more entertaining and enlightened world.

Beyond games, NetEase service offerings include its majority-controlled subsidiaries Youdao (NYSE: DAO), an intelligent learning company with industry-leading technology, and Cloud Music (HKEX: 9899), a well-known online music platform featuring a vibrant content community, as well as Yanxuan, NetEase's private label consumer lifestyle brand. For more information, please visit: http://ir.netease.com/.

Blizzard Entertainment

Christy Um

Senior Director, Global Communications

Christy.Um@blizzard.com

NetEase, Inc.

Li Ruohan

Global Communications Manager

globalpr@service.netease.com

Source: Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.

FAQ

When will Blizzard titles return to mainland China?

Blizzard titles will return to mainland China beginning in summer 2024.

Which companies are deepening their relationship in the gaming industry?

Microsoft Gaming and NetEase are deepening their relationship to bring new gaming experiences to players.

What are some of the beloved video game titles returning to China under the renewed publishing deal?

World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, and other titles in the Warcraft, Overwatch, Diablo, and StarCraft universes are returning to China.

What platforms will the new gaming experiences be available on?

The new gaming experiences will be available across platforms and markets.

What is the ticker symbol for NetEase?

The ticker symbol for NetEase is NTES.

NetEase, Inc.

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NetEase, Inc. is a Chinese Internet technology company providing online services centered on content, community, communications, and commerce.