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Activision Blizzard And NetEase Breakup Came After Bobby Kotick Felt "Threatened" - Report

NetEase denied that the company threatened Kotick over the talks.


According to a recent report, the split between Activision Blizzard and NetEase was in part due to ABK's CEO Bobby Kotick feeling "threatened."

A recent report from the New York Times has detailed what supposedly happened between Activision Blizzard and NetEase leading up to the announcement of the two parting ways. According to the report, a call took place in October between Activision Blizzard and NetEase to discuss the future of their 14-year partnership, but both apparently left with "drastically different interpretations of what had been said," according to four people close to the situation, and based on a document the NYT had seen.

As a result, in January World of Warcraft became unavailable in China due to the two not being able to make an agreement. The report noted that tensions had been building between the two companies before the contract renewals, with NetEase executives believing that Kotick had made "unreasonable demands" over the years. In 2018, NetEase invested $100 million into Bungie to make non-Destiny games, which Kotick apparently felt unhappy with as Bungie was behind schedule on making Destiny content.

October's call saw Kotick talk with NetEase chief executive William Ding and other executives about the antitrust regulators investigating Microsoft's potential acquisition of ABK, and apparently at some point in the conversation--which took place between translators--Activision executives noted they believed Ding "threatened" Kotick. Executives believed that NetEase could sway the Chinese government--which was reviewing the acquisition at the time--to potentially block the deal, depending on the outcome of any licensing deals between Activision Blizzard and NetEase. Alexandru Voica, a NetEase spokesperson, denied that Ding had threatened Activision.

Activision Blizzard did later offer NetEase a deal to extend the contract, but the latter declined, writing "Considering the unequal, unfair, and other conditions attached to the cooperation, the two parties failed to reach an agreement in the end."

Not all Activision Blizzard games are unavailable in China. Diablo Immortal, which is also handled through a deal with NetEase, is playable, while the publisher has a deal with Tencent to publish Call of Duty games in the country.

This story has been updated to note that Diablo Immortal is not the only Activision Blizzard game available in China.

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