Activision Blizzard’s acrimonious breakup with Chinese publisher NetEase was affected by boss Bobby Kotick feeling “threatened”, the New York Times has reported.
Specifically, Kotick believed NetEase boss Ding Lei had suggested his company could sway the Chinese government’s decision over whether to pass Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard in the country.
But this threat was simply a misunderstanding by Kotick, according to a number of New York Times sources familiar with a crucial Zoom call between the two company leaders via the use of translators.
Instead, it’s reported, NetEase’s Ding had been attempting to point out potential hurdles for the deal passing in China with Activision Blizzard’s partnership with NetEase in its then-current form.
Kotick, however, felt the mention of the topic to be a “threat”, and something which helped lead to his decision to end the partnership and look for a new Chinese partner.
The decision to withdraw Activision Blizzard games from China in the interim has left more than three million gamers in limbo, without access to hugely-popular games such as World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, and various Diablo and StarCraft titles.
It’s fair to say the decision left NetEase’s own staff – many of whom were longtime Blizzard game players themselves – outraged. A senior figure at NetEase blasted the actions of an unnamed “jerk” for causing the deal to fail, while staff members livestreamed themselves tearing down a World of Warcraft statue.