Blizzard is yet to announce its new Chinese partner following its split with NetEase. However, new rumors allege that the company may strike a licensing deal with Shengqu Games, the local operator of Final Fantasy XIV.
- Shortly after Activision Blizzard published its Q4 financial report, rumors started circulating online that Blizzard had eventually found a new partner in the Chinese market.
- As reported by Chinese newspaper Securities Daily, the sources claimed that the company has signed a new licensing deal with Shanghai-based Shengqu Games. The announcement was expected to take place in April, with World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, and other games relaunching in the country in May.
- According to rumors, Blizzard also revised the terms of the deal, allegedly lowering the requirements for its Chinese operator and increasing its revenue share from 50% to 60%.
- Chinese insider and famous local WoW player Lao Dao 99 (老刀舅舅) added fuel to the fire, claiming that Blizzard has signed an agreement with a Shanghai-based company. However, he then deleted his Weibo post and noted that he was asked not to interfere with the negotiations (via GameLook).
- Shengqu Games’ parent company Zhejiang Century Huatong Group later denied these reports, telling Securities Daily that the news wasn’t true.
- Other Chinese companies, including Tencent and Perfect World, were previously named among Blizzard’s new partners, too. But the future of Blizzard games in China remains hazy, given that the company will not only have to find a new operator, but also to go through the exhausting game licensing process.
- According to iiMedia Research Group CEO Zhang Yi, Blizzard is likely to have higher demands than during its relationship with NetEase. On top of that, the game approval process in China is really complex, so negotiations could also be difficult.
Who are Shengqu Games?
- Founded in 1999, Shengqu Games was originally known as Shanda Interactive Entertainment. It focuses on publishing and operating online games before being acquired by holding company Century Huatong in 2017.
- The company raised $474 million from Tencent in 2018 and was rebranded to Shengqu Games the following year.
- Shengqu Games has launched over 70 online titles in China, including Legend of Mir 2, Dragon Nest, Final Fantasy XIV, Mir Mobile, and The World of Legend.