After Blizzard’s games agencies via NetEase in China rolled up their services at the end of January, NetEase announced on February 1 that it would open a refund application channel for players who had recharged but not used some of their virtual currency or unexpired game services. At present, the number of people queuing for a refund has reached nearly 1 million.
The deadline for submitting refund applications is June 30, and players who fail to submit applications before the deadline will be deemed to have voluntarily given up their rights and interests to the leftover game assets. Players need to complete an authentication process when applying for a refund.
This refund covers a wide range of game assets. Whether it is the remaining points in Battle.net, services in World of Warcraft, or coins for use in Overwatch and Diablo III, as long as users have used these props, they will be refunded according to a unified standard.
According to the report released by the China Game Industry Research Institute, the actual sales revenue of China’s game market in 2021 is 296.513 billion yuan ($44 billion), and the number of domestic game users is 666 million. According to the above data, the per capita game expenditure is around 445 yuan.
In Weibo and Blizzard game-related forums, many players have posted their refund amounts ranging from 100 yuan to 300 yuan, with some amounts as high as 8085 yuan. In response to NetEase‘s move, many netizens praised it, while others urged Tencent, another game giant in China, and Ofo, a bike-sharing company, to speed up their refund progress.
Since entering China more than 20 years, Blizzard has changed its agent three times. The first agent was A&M who introduced more than a dozen Blizzard games and expansion films. The second agent was The9 Limited. In 2004, it obtained the agency rights to World of Warcraft, and by June 2009, there were nearly 5 million paid users of World of Warcraft in the Chinese mainland, accounting for about half of the total number of players in the world.
However, Blizzard changed its agent again in 2009, deciding to partner with NetEase instead. In 2023, after a lapse of 14 years, Blizzard chose to change its agent once more. Chinese media outlet BizNews quoted an industry person’s point of view, saying that every time Blizzard has changed agents, it has also greatly increased the agency fee and share ratio.
Previously, game companies queued for cooperation, but Blizzard currently has no choice. The company’s games, especially World of Warcraft, failed to attract more young players due to its outdated charging mode and game rhythm. Judging from a recently released statement by Blizzard China, it can be seen that the company not only hopes that NetEase will accept the extension proposal, but also require NetEase to allow it to find new agents in China, causing some dissatisfaction within NetEase and players in general.