Update: A report from WOWHead claims that NetEase is not suing Activision Blizzard, and that reporting coming out of China who is actually suing the company: a litigious individual gamer named Yang Jun, who has sued NetEase in the past over his World of Warcraft account. WOWHead has an excellent rundown of how multiple court filings may have caused this confusion (see this report as an example).
Original Story: China’s second-largest game publisher NetEase has filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard in Shanghai, requiring it to pay ￥300M ($43.4M USD) debt. After Activision Blizzard and NetEase announced the termination of the partnership in November, millions of Chinese players were required to refund their payments in World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, Hearthstone, Overwatch 2, and Diablo III, among other Blizzard titles. The $43.4M debt includes the refunds of all suspended Blizzard games, advanced payment for unsold game merchandise, as well as deposits on several undeveloped games.
The lawsuit might also impact the current Overwatch League (OWL) as one of four Chinese OWL teams—Chengdu Hunters—has not participated in OWL Spring Season. OWL issued a statement on April 18, to address the absence of the Chengdu Hunters, saying that the team is still contemplating the “future direction of their team.” The other three teams—Guangzhou Charge, Hangzhou Spark, and Shanghai Dragons—are still competing in OWL.
However, on April 25, Activision Blizzard told Chinese publication Jiemian News that the company had not received the indictment about the $43.4M debt.
“We’ve not received the indictment from the count, and we believe that we did not violate any license agreement,” Activision Blizzard said. “The terms of the contract with which NetEase is suspected to be dissatisfied [with] related to the industry standardization. We are confused and disappointed about NetEase’s behavior.”
Activision Blizzard also pointed out that its operations in China have been very “positive” and “pleasant” in the past two decades. “We remain committed to serving and protecting our local players.” As of this writing, all Chinese players’ in-game properties of Blizzard titles are still unavailable to play and use due to the China server shutdowns.
Editor’s note: The sub-headline and headline of this story were updated after publication to reflect the changing nature of this story.