esports icon

Stay Up to Date with the Latest Esports News!

Email Submitted! Check your inbox for the latest news from Esports.GG
Blizzard talks future of Hearthstone in China cover image

Blizzard talks future of Hearthstone in China

#News

Blizzard China updated players about the upcoming suspension of Hearthstone’s game service.

Blizzard released a message about the future of Hearthstone in China. In a video, Hearthstone executive producer Nathan Lyons-Smith talked about the upcoming suspension of the game's service in China, referring to the NetEase licensing deal. Read on for details.

"Please hang in there. We're exploring possibilities to bring the game back to you and the community."

Nathan Lyons-Smith, Hearthstone executive producer

Hearthstone in China update

"As a player, I can imagine how you felt with the news of our game's suspension," Lyons-Smith said in the video. The video was posted on Weibo, which is a social media platform.
He added that seeing players enjoy Hearthstone's updates and expansions is what motivates his team more than anything. "It is sad to think we will miss these moments after the upcoming service suspension in January," Lyons-Smith said.
Hearthstone executive producer Nathan Lyons-Smith talks about exploring possibilities. Screenshot via Weibo and Blizzard Entertainment.
Hearthstone executive producer Nathan Lyons-Smith talks about exploring possibilities. Screenshot via Weibo and Blizzard Entertainment.
"Please hang in there. We're exploring possibilities to bring the game back to you and the community," he said. Lyons-Smith then mentioned the new March of the Lich King expansion, Death Knight class, and free card packs from past expansions.
"Looking forward, as we've said before, all of us at Blizzard are committed to the Chinese player community, and the company is in the process of speaking to potential new publishing partners in China," he continued.
March of the Lich King key art. Image via Blizzard Entertainment.
March of the Lich King key art. Image via Blizzard Entertainment.
He thanked the community for their dedication to Hearthstone, noting that his team wants to make the game the best it can be for players across the world.
"I look forward to when we can welcome you back home to the Tavern," Lyons-Smith concluded.
Nathan Lyons-Smith hopes to bring Hearthstone back to players in China one day. Screenshot via Weibo and Blizzard Entertainment.
Nathan Lyons-Smith hopes to bring Hearthstone back to players in China one day. Screenshot via Weibo and Blizzard Entertainment.

Why is Blizzard leaving China?

Through licensing agreements with NetEase, Blizzard has been providing game services in China. Most of Blizzard's game services will be suspended in mainland China because of the expiring licensing agreements. Blizzard has worked with NetEase since 2008, but both parties weren't able to reach a deal to renew the agreements.
"Certain games will no longer be available at end of license with NetEase on January 23, 2023," according to the announcement.
World of Warcraft Dragonfight key art. Image via Blizzard Entertainment.
World of Warcraft Dragonfight key art. Image via Blizzard Entertainment.
William Ding, the CEO of NetEase, shared his thoughts on the matter. "We have put in a great deal of effort and tried with our utmost sincerity to negotiate with Activision Blizzard so that we could continue our collaboration and serve the many dedicated players in China," he said in the news release.
"However, there were material differences on key terms and we could not reach an agreement," Ding added. "We hold high regard in our product and operational standards and abide by our commitments to Chinese players."
Overwatch 2 characters. Image via Blizzard Entertainment.
Overwatch 2 characters. Image via Blizzard Entertainment.

Blizzard and NetEase

Simon Zhu, the president of global investment and partnership at NetEase, expressed his thoughts on LinkedIn. He wrote about how heartbroken he is to no longer have access to his account and memories in World of Warcraft, StarCraft, and Overwatch in 2023.
Blizzard's president, Mike Ybarra, also shared his thoughts. “We’re immensely grateful for the passion our Chinese community has shown throughout the nearly 20 years we’ve been bringing our games to China through NetEase and other partners,” Ybarra said in a press release.
He added that Blizzard is looking for alternatives to bring back games to players in the future.
esports icon

Filed Under

Amy Chen
Amy Chen
Editor | Twitter @AmyChenOfficial
Amy Chen is an esports journalist and enthusiast who specializes in in-depth interviews and breaking news. A University of Toronto and Humber College graduate, she is passionate about building up the Canadian esports industry. Her current favorite games are Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm, and she has always had a soft spot for World of Warcraft!