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Blizzard, Netease End 14-Year Partnership

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Blizzard’s biggest games will become unavailable in China following the end of their close to 15 year partnership with NetEase, which is set to come to an end in January 2023.

China-based NetEase has handled publishing for some of Blizzard’s biggest titles, including World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, and Overwatch, however the two sides were unable to agree to terms on a new deal to keep the relationship alive.

The current deal will officially expire on January 23rd, at which point the following titles will be suspended in China:

  • Diablo 3
  • Hearthstone
  • Heroes of the Storm
  • Overwatch
  • StarCraft (all titles)
  • Warcraft 3: Reforged
  • World of Warcraft

Additionally, Blizzard has said it will cease new sales of these titles “in the coming days” but the upcoming releases for World of Warcraft: Dragonflight, Hearthstone: March of the Lich King, and season two of Overwatch 2 will move forward as planned.

Furthermore, Diablo Immortal, which is co-developed by NetEase and Blizzard, is covered by a separate agreement.

“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” NetEase CEO William Ding said in an official statement.

“However, there were material differences on key terms and we could not reach an agreement.

“We hold high regard in our product and operational standards and abide by our commitments to Chinese players.”

Blizzard released a statement of their own stating that the two companies could not agree on a deal that was “consistent with Blizzard’s operating principles and commitments to players and employees.”

 

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Microsoft Bringing Four Games to Rival Consoles

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Microsoft has responded to recent reports that there will be changes to it’s first-party strategy and has confirmed that four game titles will be released on rival consoles.

More specifically, Xbox head Phil Spencer said that ‘Starfield’ and ‘Indiana Jones’ will not be among the four titles heading to other platforms. Both games had a number of candidate platforms, per reports, adding that this is “not a change to our fundamental exclusive strategy.”

“We don’t damage Xbox and we can grow our business using what other platforms have to help us with that,” Spencer said, according to GamesIndustry.biz.  “Looking forward, I think there is an interesting story for us of introducing Xbox franchises to players on other platforms to get them more interested in Xbox. We think there’s a good brand value for Xbox there.”

Xbox president Sarah Bond announced that Activision Blizzard games would begin to be added into Game Pass offerings, starting with Diablo 4, which will be added on March 28th.

Additionally, Bond said that Microsoft is still working on hardware for the future and that their focus regarding the future is “delivering the largest technical leap you will ever have seen in a hardware generation.”

 

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Sega’s Revenue See Rise to $27 Billion

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Sega Sammy has released its financial report for the nine-month period that officially concluded on December 31st, 2023, and that report that demonstrated a rise in overall sales and profit despite a decrease in sales for Sega’s new titles.

That decline was offset by growth in pachislot and pachinko machines, however Sega had lowered its sales forecasts for the full financial year.

Here is a breakdown, courtesy of GamesIndustry.biz.

  • Net sales: ¥349.9 billion ($2.3 billion, up 28.7% year-on-year)
  • Operating income: ¥54.4 billion ($364 million, up 42.4% year-on-year)
  • Ordinary income: ¥57.2 billion ($383 million, up 42.7% year-on-year)
  • Net sales were up 130.3% to ¥120.2 billion ($805 million) in this segment
  • Ordinary income increased by 521.3% at ¥45.7 billion ($306 million).
  • Entertainment Contents segment, which includes video games, net sales were up 4.2% at ¥219.3 billion
  • Profit decreased by 52.5% to ¥19.7 billion ($131.8 million) as a result of weak game sales

You can read a breakdown of the entire report at GamesIndustry.biz here.

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CVC Capital Partners, Haveli Investments Acquire Jagex

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CVC Capital Partners and Haveli Investments have reached an agreement to acquire RuneScape developer Jagex from Carlyle Group, according to Sky News.

While financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed publicly, the Sky News report indicates that CVC was planning to spend £900 million on the purchase of Jagex.

Luxembourg-based CVC Capital Partners is one of the world’s largest private equity firms and Austin-based Haveli Investments is an established games investor.

CVC Capital Partners has previously backed Dead by Daylight creator Behaviour Interactive, London-based Predecessor developer Omeda Studios, and Tel Aviv-based Match Masters studio Candivore.

Jagex has more than 700 staff worldwide, and is best known for its RuneScape franchise and is currently working on the PC and console launch of Scum by Gamepires sometimes in 2024.

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