China did not threaten Bobby Kotick, but Blizzard did understand it that way and they lost millions for it
Activision Blizzard has had its ups and downs in recent years. Not only the purchase of the business pairing by Microsoft, but the end of the alliances with NetEase in China and, therefore, the cessation of its games and servers. A historic agreement, or disagreement, where a misunderstood put an end to a millionaire alliance with Bobby Kotick as protagonist.
To understand what happened, you have to go back to October 2022, when both Blizzard and NetEase, through their translators, began talks to renew the agreements. In one of those conversations, according to the New York Times, the Blizzard leadership would have felt intimidated by the chinesewhich led to the distrust of the Americans and the termination of the agreement.
Although it is argued that it was a misunderstanding, Blizzard understood that NetEase sought to influence the Chinese government in view of the purchase of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft. If the deal between Blizzard and NetEase didn’t come to fruition, they threatened to China would block the purchase. In fact, the “shadow participation” of the Asian country in business negotiations would have made the Americans very nervous.
However, the situation seems to be far from what Blizzard felt at the time. According to several sources close to the American newspaper, William Ding, CEO of NetEase, never threatened Blizzard or its management leadership. Alexandru Voica, spokesperson for NetEase, also denies the alleged intimidation towards Blizzard.
Everything seems to indicate that a misunderstanding, perhaps originating from the translators or depending on what words, I can end up with a million-dollar deal. But, What does Bobby Kotick fit into all this? It must be borne in mind that regardless of all the controversies, Kotick is still CEO of Activision Blizzard, and such a threat would have jeopardized dangeronce again, your leadershipespecially if the Chinese had gone public with the offer.
A tug of war between two billion-dollar companies that led to all of China being left without access to games like Diablo 4, Overwatch 2 or World of Warcraft. Both NetEase and Blizzard do not seem to want to resume talks and, if it is true that a misunderstanding ruined everything, it will go down in the annals of history as one of the slip ups most curious about video games as an industry.
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