Blizzard Entertainment and NetEase suspend gaming services in China

IRVINE, CA–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. today announced that it will suspend most of Blizzard’s game services in mainland China due to the expiration of the current licensing agreements with NetEase, Inc. on January 23, 2023 World of Warcraft®, Hearthstone®, Warcraft® III: Reforged, over watch®,the star ship® Series, Diablo III®and Heroes of the Storm®. Diablo immortal® co-development and release is covered by a separate agreement between the two companies.

Blizzard Entertainment has had licensing agreements with NetEase since 2008 covering the release of these Blizzard titles in China. The two parties have not reached an agreement to extend the agreements consistent with Blizzard’s operating principles and commitments to players and employees, and the agreements are scheduled to expire in January 2023.

We will be suspending new sales in the coming days and Chinese players will be receiving details on how this will work soon. Upcoming releases for World of Warcraft: Dragonflight, Hearthstone: March of the Lich King, and season 2 of surveillance 2 will continue later this year.

“We’re very grateful for the passion our Chinese community has shown over the nearly 20 years we’ve been bringing our games to China through NetEase and other partners,” said Mike Ybarra, president of Blizzard Entertainment. “Their enthusiasm and creativity inspire us, and we’re looking at alternatives to bring our games back to players in the future.”

About Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.

Best known for iconic video game universes like Warcraft®over watch®Diablo®and StarCraft®, Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. (www.blizzard.com), a division of Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ: ATVI), is a leading developer and publisher of entertainment experiences. Blizzard Entertainment has developed some of the most critically acclaimed and genre-defining games in the industry over the past 30 years, with a track record that includes multiple Game of the Year awards. Blizzard Entertainment engages millions of gamers around the world with titles available through Battle.net on PC®Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo Switch, iOS and Android.

Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements: Statements contained herein that are not historical facts are forward-looking statements, including but not limited to statements regarding our plans and objectives, including those relating to the release of products or services. Activision Blizzard, Inc. commonly uses words such as “outlook,” “forecast,” “will,” “could,” “should,” “would,” “be,” “plan,” “aim,” “believe,” “may”, “could”, “expects”, “intends”, “aims”, “anticipates”, “estimates”, “future”, “positioned”, “potential”, “project”, “remains”, ” planned”, “committed to”, “conditional”, “upcoming” and the negative versions of these words and other similar words and phrases to identify forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements involve business and economic risks, reflect management’s current expectations, estimates and projections about our business and are inherently uncertain and difficult to predict.

We caution you that a number of important factors, many of which are beyond our control, could cause our actual future results and other future circumstances to differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements. These factors include, among others: the anticipated impact of the expiration of the agreement with NetEase, Inc.; the impact of the announcement or pending transaction with Microsoft Corporation (“Microsoft”) on our relationships, results of operations and our business generally; risks that the proposed transaction with Microsoft will disrupt our current plans and operations and potential difficulties in retaining employees as a result of the proposed transaction with Microsoft; the global impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and other macroeconomic factors (including but not limited to the potential for significant short- and long-term global unemployment and economic weakness and the consequent impact on global discretionary spending; potential burdens on retailers , distributors and manufacturers who sell our physical products to customers and the platform providers on whose networks and consoles certain of our games are available; impacting our ability to release our content in a timely manner and with effective quality control; impacting our ability to do so to prevent cybersecurity incidents while our workforce is dispersed, impacts on the operations of our professional esports leagues and macroeconomic impacts resulting from the long duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, including workforce labor shortages and supply chain disruptions); our ability to deliver popular, high-quality titles in a timely manner, which has been complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic; our ability to attract, retain and motivate qualified employees; risks and uncertainties of doing business outside of the United States (the “US”), including the need for regulatory approvals to operate; risks related to the conduct of our distributors, retailers, development and licensing partners or other related third parties that could harm our brands or business operations; our reliance on tools and technology owned by third parties; failures, disruptions or degradation of our services, products and/or technological infrastructure; data breaches, fraudulent activity and other cybersecurity risks; increasing regulation in key areas; regulation relating to the internet, including potential harm from laws affecting “net neutrality”; regulations on data protection, including the China Personal Data Protection Law; insolvency or business failure of any of our business partners, aggravated as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic; and the other factors included in Part I, Item 1A “Risk Factors” of our annual report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2021 filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

The forward-looking statements contained herein are based on information available to Activision Blizzard, Inc. as of the date of this filing, and we assume no obligation to update such forward-looking statements. Actual events or results may differ from those projected in the forward-looking statements. Therefore, you should not rely on any forward-looking statements as predictions of future events. We have based the forward-looking statements contained herein primarily on our current expectations and projections about future events and trends that we believe will affect our business, financial condition, results of operations, prospects, strategy and financial needs could affect. These statements are not guarantees of our future performance and are subject to risks, uncertainties and other factors, some of which are beyond our control, which could cause actual results to differ materially from current expectations.

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