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World of Warcraft China Shutdown Cuts Off Millions of Gamers

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Millions of Chinese gamers have lost access to World of Warcraft after a furious dispute between US title owner Activision Blizzard Inc.

and NetEase Inc., its longtime local partner in the world's biggest gaming market. Devotees of the popular game took to social media networks to bemoan the loss, with one posting an image of a failed connection message accompanied by crying emojis. “It really hurts my heart,” wrote one. “It hurts, it hurts too much” another.

The 14-year partnership had brought significant benefits to both sides, helping NetEase become China's second-biggest games distributor after Tencent Holdings Ltd.

and giving Blizzard a way into an enormous Asian market. But the two companies broke off talks late last year on a new licensing agreement to make Blizzard franchises like Diablo, Warcraft and Overwatch available in China.

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