Microsoft and NetEase Team Up to Bring Warcraft Back to China.

Aneesh K.
Aneesh K. - Author
6 Min Read
Image by CNBC

The gaming world is ignited with excitement as Microsoft and NetEase collaborate to relaunch the classic games, including the legendary World of Warcraft, back into China’s gaming market. In this article, we will cover all anouncements made by developers and what it means for gamers and the industry at large.

History of Warcraft in China

Warcraft’s history in China is impressive. Initially released in the country in the early 2000s, the franchise instantly became famous, becoming a part of the lives of many Chinese gamers. Yet, due to regulatory red tape and a change in hands, the game was discontinued by its licensor, a significant blow to the vibrant gaming community.

After a year of absence, the franchise is set to make a comeback in China, and it’s all thanks to Microsoft and NetEase. 

Bring Warcraft Back to China?

World Popular games such as World of Warcraft will be back in China’s gaming Scene this summer, according to Chinese video game Developers NetEase.

A number of Blizzard‘s games were taken down in China in January 2023 after the developers terminated their partnership with NetEase. NetEase and game developer Activision Blizzard (Owned by Microsoft) ended their 14-year partnership due to a disagreement over intellectual property control.

Microsoft acquired Activision Blizzard for $69bn (£54bn) in October last year, one of the biggest deals in gaming history. 

This end of the partnership Made China’s gaming market empty of American Games. Also, players have been missing their favorite games since last year.

The earlier disagreement became an open feud, resulting in many lawsuits against each other’s company. 

Microsoft and NetEase Team Up to Bring Warcraft Back to China.
Image by China Daily

The reason behind why Microsoft can’t go solo in the Chinese gaming market is,

All games require a local publisher and licence from the Chinese government to operate there. That was the main reason which prevented foreign publishers from entering China.

Other games that will return includes Warcraft,  Hearthstone, Overwatch, Diablo and StarCraft Franchise’s Games.

“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 Blizzard Entertainment President Johanna Faries in a joint statement.

“We are focused on bringing our universes back to players with excellence and dedication” further said.

NetEase Games on Xbox

Microsoft and NetEase Team Up to Bring Warcraft Back to China.
Image by CNBC

China is the world’s biggest gaming market with around 13% of the global share and over $49 B in annual revenue.

Netease is the second biggest game publisher in China after Tencent.

With this partnership, Microsoft and NetEase also agree to bring NetEase games to Xbox and other gaming Platforms.

“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.

Games are making a comeback in the Chinese gaming scene on the other hand Chinese government limiting players from playing games and putting restrictions on gaming.

In 2021 Beijing released an order for players under 18 allowing them to play games only on Fridays weekends and holidays for one hour only.

Chinese citizens are obsessed with gaming whereas the Chinese government putting restrictions limiting in-game purchases in China to stop overspending in-game items


  1. What’s the Partnership About?

Microsoft is leveraging NetEase’s vast experience in the Chinese market to bring Warcraft to life again. This partnership will include optimized game services, bringing the platform to China, and most excitingly, potentially even a mobile release.

  1. Why returning in China?

The Chinese gaming market is the largest in the world and offers unprecedented opportunities for global gaming entities. For Warcraft, a game deeply embedded in Chinese gaming lore, a comeback to China is not just strategic but also sentimental.

  1. What Can Gamers Expect?

The companies have promised an enhanced experience with upgraded visuals and cross-platform capabilities. This relaunch could mean not just a resurgence of old-time players but also an influx of new ones, eager to explore this iconic title.

  1. The Mobile Prospect?

With China’s gaming demographic increasingly shifting towards mobile, a mobile release for Warcraft can be a game-changer. It would open the gates to millions of potential users and create new ways for fans to engage with the franchise.

  1. What’s the Industry Impact?

This partnership signals a possible shifting landscape in the Chinese gaming market, with the potential for other international game developers to re-enter or enter for the first time.

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By Aneesh K. Author
Aneesh K. is a gamer who loves creating interesting content about gaming and news. He keeps up with the latest trends in the gaming industry and enjoys sharing insights and discoveries with fellow gamers. Follow Aneesh for engaging articles, reviews, and news about the dynamic world of gaming.
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