Blizzard in talks to bring ‘World of Warcraft’ back to China

Team Grmbl competes with Team Method: Triforce at World of WarCraft at BlizzCon 2017 at Anaheim Convention Center on November 3, 2017 in Anaheim, California. BlizzCon is the site of the Overwatch World Cup 2017 eSports tournament. Photo by Joe Scarnici / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

US gaming giant Blizzard Entertainment is in talks to bring popular title “World of Warcraft” back to China after a previous local licensing deal fell through, the company said Tuesday.

Blizzard — the operator of some of video gaming’s best-known titles, including “Overwatch” — said in November it would suspend most of its services in China from January.

The game maker had failed to reach an agreement with Chinese publisher NetEase over an extension to their 14-year partnership — foreign companies require a license with a local firm in order to sell their games.

Blizzard is now in talks with “potential release partners” over bringing “World of Warcraft” back to China, Warcraft General Manager John Hight said in a letter published on the company’s official Chinese social media account.

He said the company was also working on an interim function that would let users save their game progress until service resumed in China.

Hight acknowledged that gamers in China “were very concerned about what specific work we are doing to bring World of Warcraft back to everyone after January 23”, the date at which the agreement with NetEase is set to end.

Analysts have said that the row with NetEase did not mean that Blizzard was leaving China and that the company was expected to find new ways to stay in the market, including through a possible tie-up with local tech giant Tencent.

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