Popular American video games including World of Warcraft and Overwatch are set to go offline in China in the coming months, hitting revenues for their creator Activision Blizzard as it seeks to complete a $75 billion sale to Microsoft, reports the Financial Times. China is the world’s largest gaming market, but foreign developers need a local partner to distribute their games in the country. Beijing also heavily censors gaming content and controls the number of new releases through a licensing system.
Activision Blizzard said on Thursday it was unable to reach a deal to renew a licensing agreement with NetEase, one of China’s largest game developers and publishers, which has distributed the games in the country for years. The California-based company said last week that the NetEase agreement in dispute accounted for about 3% of its net revenues last year, translating to roughly $264 million in sales.
Activision Blizzard president Mike Ybarra said the company was “immensely grateful for the passion” Chinese gamers had for their titles and that the company was looking for alternative distribution partners.