World of Warcraft, Overwatch and Diablo 3 are among the big Activision Blizzard video-games titles that will disappear in China in January 2023.

World of Warcraft

The games developer and NetEase, the company that provides access to the games in China, have failed to renew their 14-year-old licensing agreement.

All games require a local publisher and licences from the Chinese government to operate there.

Activision said it was looking for alternatives.

In the meantime, new sales would halt in the next few days.
Acquiring a new publisher and new licences could take a long time.

'Material differences'

NetEase boss William Ding said the company had tried to negotiate with Activision with "utmost sincerity".

"There were material differences on key terms and we couldn't come to an agreement," he said.

Activision, one of the world's largest games developers, said it had been unable to reach a deal consistent with its "operating principles and commitments to players and employees".

NetEase had been operating its Activision Blizzard provision at a loss.

World of Warcraft is thought to have about three million players in China

But last year, the state limited the time children can spend online gaming to one hour on Fridays, weekends and holidays.

The titles that will no longer be available in China are:

  • Overwatch
  • Diablo
  • World of Warcraft
  • Hearthstone
  • Starcraft
  • Heroes of the Storm

Last week, Activision said the NetEase agreement accounted for about 3% of its net revenues last year, roughly $264mn (£223mn) in sales.

Microsoft is trying to buy Activision, for $68.7bn.

The UK competition watchdog is scrutinising the deal.

But Microsoft hopes it will be closed by June 2023.