With the impending shutdown of Blizzard services in China, players will be able to download World of Warcraft data for the potential future
Blizzard will allow World of Warcraft players in China to download their character data for safekeeping as the game’s servers prepare to shut down in the world’s largest gaming market. While it may be far in the future, this unusual move will preserve players’ hard-earned years of progress in the event World of Warcraft returning to China at a later date.
In late November, it was announced that Blizzard would suspend services in China due to failure to reach an amicable publishing agreement with longtime Chinese publishing partner NetEase. While it’s unclear what specific details fell through, Bloomberg reported through an anonymous source that “the issues weren’t just the financial terms of the deal — who owned the intellectual property and player data were also in dispute.” As a result, most of Blizzard’s services will be included World of Warcraft, Overwatch, starcraft 2and Hearthstone will stop operating in China.
In an announcement on Wowhead, Warcraft franchise manager John Hight assured players that Blizzard is looking for a new distribution partner in China and that “We expect the transition to the new partner for World of Warcraft CN service will be fine.” Until then, Chinese World of Warcraft players will be able to take their character data into their own hands by downloading their data to their personal devices for use when Blizzard services return to the region. Losing potentially decades of progress and memories in a game like that can be devastating World of Warcraftand many players would likely never return to the game if they lost their data.
There may be more behind this failed deal than financial terms and intellectual property disputes, but as NetEase Global Investment President Simon Zhu stated on LinkedIn that “One day, when what has happened behind the scenes could be told, developers and gamers will have a whole new level of understanding of how much damage a jerk can do.” Simon Zhu himself is an avid gamer who has admitted to spending “ten thousand hours” on it World of Warcraft, Starcraftand Overwatch. It is disturbing that a massive international agreement could have fallen through because of one person.
Blizzard has gone to great lengths to create World of Warcraft available in China, and changed many character models and textures to fit China’s strict censorship policies from the skulls along the road to Icecrown Citadel to the visible bones of Undead characters. Hopefully Blizzard will find a new publishing deal soon so that Chinese players will join their characters in Azeroth.
World of Warcraft is available on PC.
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Source: Gamespot, Wowhead