Blizzard’s 14 year relationship with Chinese publisher NetEase will come to an end on January 23rd, at which time World Of Warcraft will go offline for millions of Chinese players. As the date approaches, NetEase have livestreamed staff dismantling a giant WoW axe statue at their offices with hammers, and called Blizzard’s actions “brash, unseemly and commercially illogical.”

You can watch a clip of the dismantling below. WoWHead report that the drinks served at the end of the video were green tea, a reference to a Chinese insult for a person who appears innocent but is in reality manipulative.

In recent days, Blizzard China released a statement saying that they had offered a six-month contract extension to NetEase, but that the Chinese publisher had refused. Today, NetEase issued a response of their own via Chinese social media site WeChat

“For unknowable reasons, last week Blizzard re-sought NetEase with an offer of a so-called six-month extension of the game service and other conditions, and made it clear that it would not stop continuing negotiations with other potential partners during the contract extension,” reads the statement. “And as far as we know, Blizzard’s negotiations with other companies during the same period were all based on a three-year contract period. Considering the non-reciprocity, unfairness and other conditions attached to the cooperation, therefore, the parties could not reach an agreement in the end.

“In our view, Blizzard’s proposal – including today’s surprise announcement – is brash, unseemly and commercially illogical. Its overconfidence does not take into account where players and NetEase have been placed by this kind of demand everything, Riding a mule while looking for a horse, and divorce but still try to live together behavior.”

The statement also disputes media reports that NetEase wanted to control the World Of Warcraft IP, saying that they have “used and licensed any Blizzard IP in accordance with the terms of the contract.” They also said they had not been involved with the development or testing of a new “game progress archive feature”, which aims to allow players WoW players in China to bank their progress for future restoration should Blizzard find a new Chinese publisher in future. “If this feature causes loss of virtual property or inability to play, Blizzard shall bear full responsibility.”

This isn’t the first fiery response NetEase have made publicly to their break-up with Blizzard. When the parting of ways was announced – which also affects Overwatch 2 and HearthStone players – NetEase president Simon Zhu posted on LinkedIn that the breakdown in negotiations was the blame of an unnamed “jerk”.

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