Blizzard says NetEase “campaign” is “puzzling and disappointing”
Diablo 4, World of Warcraft, Overwatch, and RPG game maker Blizzard is reportedly facing legal action from its former Chinese publishing partner NetEase, which is allegedly planning to sue the developer for $44 million (£35 million) over violations of licensing agreements. In a statement to PCGamesN, however, the Diablo 4 and WoW dev says it has not yet received a lawsuit from NetEase, and describes the publisher’s recent “campaign” as “puzzling and disappointing.”
NetEase was formerly responsible for the distribution of various Blizzard games throughout China. The partnership deal came to an end however in January, after NetEase dismissed the terms of a new agreement with Blizzard as “rude and unreasonable.” Shortly thereafter, on January 19, footage emerged of NetEase employees physically destroying a Blizzard statue outside the company’s main office.
On April 24, reports emerged from Chinese media outlet Sina that NetEase had filed a $44 million suit against Blizzard alleging that the developer had failed to provide the refunds to players that it had promised to pay after game services in China ended. NetEase reportedly claimed that it had been left to pay these refunds instead.
The supposed lawsuit also, reportedly, claims that NetEase paid deposits to secure licensing deals for Blizzard’s games which have not yet been refunded. The alleged lawsuit also supposedly claims that NetEase is seeking compensation for unsold Blizzard-related merchandise.
In a statement to PCGamesN, however, Blizzard says that it has “not yet received” a lawsuit from NetEase.
“We haven’t received the lawsuit yet, but we are confident we aren’t in breach of any licensing agreements,” a company spokesperson says. “The terms NetEase appears to be complaining about reflect standard industry practice and have been mutually-beneficial for years.
“While this persistent campaign by one former partner is disappointing and puzzling, it’s important to note that we have enjoyed nearly two decades of positive experiences operating in China, and remain committed to serving players and protecting their interests.”
PCGamesN has contacted NetEase and will update this story with any further information.
The statement from Blizzard comes as World of Warcraft is expected to get a giant overhaul to its classic mode, and we finally get a look at the Diablo 4 system requirements.