Activision Blizzard is responsible for some of the biggest games in the industry, and a large part of that is thanks to its vast communities worldwide, including the lucrative Chinese market. Because of the way the market in China works, you might’ve heard about problems with Activision Blizzard’s services over there and are wondering if they’ve been banned. Below, we will break down the situation with Activision Blizzard games in China, including World of Warcraft and Overwatch 2, and take a look at any potential bans.
Are World of Warcraft and Overwatch 2 Banned in China?
In simple terms, no, World of Warcraft and Overwatch 2 have not been banned in China, but their servers have been shut down, and there is much more to the situation than you might expect.
For western developers to release their games in China, they need to work with a Chinese publisher to adhere to specific regulations and restrictions. In this case, Activision Blizzard had been working with NetEase for 14 years to publish and run their games in the country, including Hearthstone, Warcraft III: Reforged, StarCraft, Diablo III, and Heroes of the Storm, as well as World of Warcraft and Overwatch 2. However, after failing to reach a new deal with NetEase, Activision Blizzard has been forced to shut down servers for its games in China, meaning players in the region will no longer be able to play these games until a new deal is struck or a new partner is found to publish the titles.
This unfortunate situation results from months of back and forth between the companies and their inability to reach a new agreement. In November 2022, it was first revealed that Activision Blizzard would be pulling out of China. The company said it could not reach a deal “consistent with Blizzard’s operating principles and commitments to players and employees.” The company then attempted to extend the existing agreement in early January but could not.
It’s unlikely we will see these companies reconcile anytime soon, which was made pretty clear when NetEase demolished their Blizzard-themed statue on a live stream recently and well and truly burnt that bridge. Unfortunately for Chinese players, until a new partner is found, they will be unable to play these games.