- Blizzard addressed the issue of recent cases of censorship of various elements in World of Warcraft;
- The company explains that the changes are a result of collecting feedback from employees about objects that are "outdated or inconsistent with the values currently held by the team";
- The developers don't intend to limit player avatar customization options - on the contrary, they plan to give players even more options, including the option to switch from summoning a succubus to an incubus.
Recent weeks have passed World of Warcraft players not only on typical in-game activities. Fans have also seen more examples of unusual and amusing censorship in Azeroth, often taking aim at elements long present in the game. These changes were made quietly, and it's unlikely anyone expected Blizzard to openly address the issue in an announcement on the game's official website.
In the announcement, the developers admitted that they had changed "a small portion of old quests, art elements, names and dialogue". These were deemed "outdated or inconsistent with Blizzard's values". This censorship is only part of a larger initiative by the company to "improve" both the team responsible for WoW and the company as a whole. This includes setting up "internal channels" to enable employees to share their opinions on content that they feel doesn't represent the company's current values. (By the way - at the same time, Blizzard was also collecting information about players' views on gameplay, which will translate into improvements in the tested update 9.1.5).
The developers stressed that silly jokes and the occasional innuendos are, and likely always will be, part of World of Warcraft. However, Blizzard wants them to remain as friendly fun and not punch down . The problem here is that some of the visual elements are used in many different places, so it can happen that they appear in an "inappropriate" context.
But what about character customization, which - as many fans have pointed out - from a moral standpoint comes off much worse and is much more visible than an almost forgotten painting in an old location? Blizzard has stressed that avatars are a way for players to express themselves in the game, and so they have no plans to make any changes in the spirit of their new policy. Instead, the developers want to make sure that players have a wide range of options in creating their hero. Interestingly, this includes... the addition of the incubus as an alternate model of the succubus summoned by sorcerers. The change is expected to be implemented as soon as update 9.1.5 launches.
Blizzard assured that it will continue to "discuss, analyze, and act" on such feedback. However, players are not thrilled with these explanations. In addition to the voices of those doubting the company's assurances and treating the latest moves as a distraction from more serious problems, there were also fans proposing their own fixes. These include the option to disable the display of negative emotes similar to the current "mature" language filter (instead of the creators' plan to remove them altogether) and the addition of more revealing male armor (to make the tattoos visible).
Time will tell if Blizzard will decide to make the changes suggested by fans, or if it will limit itself to the opinions of its own employees. For now, the company must comply with the terms of the recent settlement, which includes instituting employee protection programs and establishing a fund for victims of workplace bullying.
- World of Wacraft - official website
- World of Warcraft: Shadowlands Review - 75% Legion; 25% New