As the future of Blizzard games in China remains hazy, local players have started applying for refunds for unused in-app purchases. NetEase, which was responsible for operating these products in the country, explained how users can claim their money back.

1 million Chinese players apply for refunds for Blizzard games

What happened?

  • A number of Chinese media outlets noticed that on February 1, NetEase launched a special refund application channel for local players.
  • According to the company’s official statement, refunds are open for users who have purchased but not used virtual currency in Blizzard games, including World of Warcraft, Overwatch, and Hearthstone.
  • The list of refundable items excludes free gifts and rewards obtained by players. Holders of accounts with security risks are also not eligible to participate in the program.
  • Players must submit their applications before June 30. Otherwise, they will no longer be able to claim their money.
  • According to GameLook, the number of users queuing for refunds has already surpassed 1 million. The amounts are usually between 100 and 300 yuan ($14.8-44.5).

 Timeline of Blizzard’s relationship with NetEase

  • Blizzard and NetEase first made a long-term licensing deal in 2008 and renewed it in 2019. For all these years, the Chinese tech giant has been publishing and operating WoW, Warcraft III: Reforged, Overwatch, Diablo III, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, and the StarCraft series in the country.
  • NetEase also had to make sure that all Blizzard products met China’s strict policies, as well as adjust in-game content to comply with censorship requirements.
  • Under this agreement, the publisher obtained IP ownership of local versions of Blizzard titles and controled the data of millions of Chinese players.
  • In November 2022, the deal expired as the two companies failed to agree on new terms. As a result, all in-app purchases were suspended and all games services went offline last month.
  • Shortly after the split, Blizzard started looking for a new publisher in China. According to some reports, the studio recently entered the final stages of negotiations with a potential partner (Tencent, Perfect World, and ByteDance are named among candidates).
  • Blizzard also asked NetEase to extend the expired agreement for another six months so that Chinese players can continue to play its games.
  • However, NetEase called this proposal “outrageous, inappropriate, and not in line with business logic.” The company also accused Blizzard of not considering the interests of local gamers.

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