NetEase Will Officially Announce the Return of Blizzard Games to China Within A Month

On March 12th, according to domestic media ‘Coreesports‘, NetEase will officially announce the return of Blizzard games in China at the end of March or beginning of April. This time, the operation of the national service will be managed by NetEase HuYu Guangzhou and marketed by Thunder Fire, which is consistent with what former NetEase Blizzard executive Zhang Dong said.

The report stated that, unlike the previous establishment of a company specifically responsible for operating Blizzard games, this time NetEase‘s two major business groups jointly took charge of Blizzard games. ‘This seems to be both another form of attention to Blizzard games and a mutual benefit for both parties.’ The current practice of separating distribution and operation is relatively rare in the industry. The reason why Thunder Fire is in charge of marketing Blizzard games this time mainly includes the following reasons:

After NetEase and Blizzard “split up” early last year, under the banner of Thunder Fire, the PC version of “Nishuihan” was launched with the introduction of the “Warcraft Veteran Service,” attracting some players from “World of Warcraft.” From a promotional perspective, it made the then-“nowhere to go” World of Warcraft players feel NetEase‘s sincerity towards players.

The mobile game “Naraka: Bladepoint,” developed by Thunder Fire 24 Entertainment, will start testing on April 1st. The timing is close to NetEase‘s official announcement that Blizzard’s national service is returning, suggesting there may be some collaboration in terms of promotion and marketing between both parties.

Thunder Fire sees value in Blizzard’s game IP and hopes to obtain authorization for the IP of “World of Warcraft” through Blizzard’s national service return, developing a mobile version of “World of Warcraft.

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In terms of specific timing, the media cited informed sources as saying that it will mainly be based on the update pace of ‘World of Warcraft’. According to the roadmap of ‘World of Warcraft’, there will be 4 major version updates for this game this year. In terms of timing, the earliest possible return online for World of Warcraft China server could be with version 10.2.7 at the end of March, and the latest could also be before version 11.0, not ruling out the possibility that it may go live on April 1st when ‘Naraka: Bladepoint’ mobile game starts testing.

The report also mentioned a potential reason for the operation by NetEase HuYu Guangzhou: after resuming cooperation, NetEase may no longer establish a dedicated department to operate Blizzard games, but instead integrate them into the NetEase HuYu Entertainment Cooperation Products Department for operation, similar to other cooperative products. Currently, the only product that both parties are still cooperating on, ‘Diablo Immortal,’ is also being developed by the NetEase Qidian Business Unit Guangzhou team.