Recently, Activision Blizzard and Chinese publisher NetEase are reportedly cancelling an unannounced but widely speculated mobile MMORPG set in the world of World of Warcraft, according to a report by Bloomberg.
The companies reportedly disagreed on financial matters and cancelled the mobile game despite having worked on it together for over three years.
NetEase was to disband a team of more than 100 developers that was making content for the unannounced MMO. Codenamed Neptune, this project was never officially announced, however Activision Blizzard boss Bobby Kotick has confirmed that the company is planning several free-to-play mobile titles based on its brands.
So Neptune is clearly not going to see a release. Ditto for the Warcraft-themed Pokémon Go variation codenamed Orbis, which was supposed to be cancelled by Activision just after the announcement of its mobile tower defense Warcraft Arclight Rumble. Also, four years of previous development notwithstanding.
While neither NetEase nor Activision have commented on the matter, speculation is rife as to what consequences the mutual disagreement may have for the latter company in the Chinese market.
NetEase, the second largest Chinese tech firm, handles publishing the rest of the portfolio for Activision in China – western companies cannot otherwise get their games there without a local middleman.
The firms also jointly created the recently released mobile MMORPG Diablo Immortal, which has done very well commercially despite its criticized monetization model.
If the companies were to split for good, then Activision Blizzard still has a Chinese number one in its sights – tencent is behind the mobile adaptation of the Call of Duty franchise, which has also been very successful financially.