Activision Blizzard and NetEase have announced the end of their licensing agreement, which brings a 14-year relationship to a conclusion.
The end of a fruitful partnership
The termination of the agreement, which came after talks between two companies for the renewal of the deal broke down, means that gamers in China will lose access to a range of popular video games, including World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, and Diablo III, when the current deal ends in January 2023.
MMO games such as World of Warcraft quickly became a phenomenon after being released by Blizzard Entertainment in 2004. The company has kept the online game fresh with a series of expansion packs including Shadowlands in 2020. The game successfully taps into the popular blend of fantasy and sci-fi, which has not only inspired a range of video game titles but has also led to a range of innovations in the wider entertainment industry.
Capitalizing on the boom in fantasy themes
Two of the most popular shows on TV over the past few years have featured the fantasy genre. The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, which is based on the novel The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien, and House of the Dragon, a series that serves as a prequel to the Game of Thrones franchise, have both benefitted from the boom in fantasy themes.
Video game developers as a whole have been able to tap into the boom in fantasy themes. Ubisoft Montreal constantly provides players with titles in the fantasy genre including the Assassin’s Creed game franchise, with the latest spinoff Assassin’s Creed Valhalla taking players into the world of Viking myths and legends. The iGaming sector has been able to capitalize on the interest in fantasy themes by offering players a wide range of game titles such as Kraken Conquest, Medusa, and Dragon’s Throne, which are available to play at an online casino in Canada. In the same way, as game developers introduce expansions and updated versions of video games, the iGaming industry constantly releases new titles to satisfy the desires of fans of fantasy themes.
The termination of the agreement between Activision Blizzard and NetEase will reduce the number of popular fantasy video games available in China. The markets reacted quickly to the news, with the share price of NetEase falling 9% on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
Still, NetEase continues to perform well, driven in particular by mobile gaming which makes up over 92% of gaming revenue. One of the most popular titles for the company is the mobile game Identity V, which was developed and published by NetEase Games.
The original deal with Activision Blizzard came into effect in 2008 and led to the joint development of a range of popular games including Diablo Immortal, the fourth iteration of the Diablo franchise which was released in 2022. Fortunately, the Chinese company will still be involved in the development of Diablo Immortal thanks to a separate agreement between Activision Blizzard and NetEase.
However, the loss of games such as World of Warcraft will hit NetEase as the company will now be under pressure to develop more of its own game titles.