As a result of the decision made by Activision Blizzard Inc and NetEase Inc., a World of Warcraft smartphone game that had been in development for three years has been scrapped, which raises questions regarding one of the most lucrative business relationships in the industry.
According to people with knowledge of the situation, NetEase has disbanded a team of more than one hundred developers who were tasked with developing content for the title.
Only a select few of these developers were offered internal transfers. According to a source familiar with the transaction who asked not to be named while discussing private information, the two businesses disagreed with the terms of the project and ultimately decided to call a halt to it.
The project had been kept a secret up until this point.
The next day after the publication of this story, a spokesperson for Activision stated that there had not been a disagreement regarding finances between the two companies.
According to a statement released by a spokesperson for the company, “We continue to have an extremely successful relationship with NetEase, and it is entirely untrue to suggest that there have been any financial disputes.” A spokesperson for NetEase said the company would not comment on the matter.
The decision raises questions about the future of Blizzard’s partnership with China’s No. 2 gaming giant, which gives the American studio a valuable window into the mobile gaming industry in the world’s largest country.
The Hangzhou-based company NetEase publishes World of Warcraft and other Blizzard franchises in the country. Additionally, the company is a co-creator of the recently released Diablo Immortal, which is on track to become a commercial success despite criticism regarding the game’s in-game purchases.
The now-canceled game was going to be a massively multiplayer online role-playing game with a setting similar to that of World of Warcraft. However, the project was given the codename Neptune instead.
It would be a spinoff of the popular online game rather than a direct translation of the original, and it would take place in a different era.
On Wednesday in Hong Kong, shares of NetEase fell as much as 3.1%, while the Hang Seng Tech Index gained 1.8%.
Activision Microsoft Corporation spent $69 billion to acquire Blizzard Entertainment, a US gaming powerhouse that has been accused of sexism. One of the driving factors behind the acquisition was Blizzard’s foray into mobile gaming.
This past May, the Blizzard subsidiary revealed an upcoming mobile game that will take place in the Warcraft universe. The game is a strategy title called Warcraft Arclight Rumble, and it is very similar to the successful game Clash Royale, which was developed by Supercell Oy.