Blizzard is switching up operators in China for World of Warcraft, losing long-time operator The9 in favor of NetEase, already the operator of nearly every other Blizzard game in the country.
Last summer Blizzard announced a partnership with NetEase to operate StarCraft II, Warcraft III, and Battle.net in mainland China, so it really comes as no surprise that they sign a three-year agreement with the company to operate World of Warcraft as well, with The9's contract expiring soon..
"We appreciate the enthusiasm that Chinese gamers have shown us over the years, and we've always worked hard, in collaboration with our partners, to ensure that these players receive the same high-quality service and gameplay experiences that we deliver in other regions," said Mike Morhaime, CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. "This new agreement with NetEase will support that goal for years to come, and we look forward to collaborating with them on a smooth transition for World of Warcraft moving forward."
The9 issued a corresponding statement this morning, announcing that the company had learned of Blizzard's intentions to switch operators once their contract had ended. One can only imagine how depressing this news must be for them.