Blizzard has been changing the World of Warcraft emotes, art, and names for some time now. They have also been changing their stance on loot boxes and how they are implemented in the game.
“Here’s Blizzard’s rationale for changing some of World of Warcraft’s emotes, art, and names” is a blog post by Blizzard explaining why they made changes to some of the game’s features.
The teams at Blizzard have said very little about the situation in the wake of the ongoing investigations and lawsuits into Activision-sexual Blizzard’s harassment and discrimination scandal, and the company has not publicly acknowledged or responded to the four demands issued by its internal proto-union. The teams have tinkered with the games itself, deleting names and allusions to discredited creators, modifying potentially offending graphics, and even eliminating certain contentious emotes from games like World of Warcraft and Overwatch, which are visible to the public.
The modifications haven’t gone down well with the playerbase, as we’ve pointed out that they’re small tweaks that have no effect on gameplay and don’t alleviate the employees’ situation in any way.
Blizzard has obviously heard the complaints, since the WoW team published a dev blog yesterday addressing the company’s recent actions. The company claims to have established up internal channels for developers to speak out about “material that doesn’t reflect who [the programmers] are as a team today” back in August.
“We realize that these upgrades will amount to relatively few overall modifications in a game with thousands of graphic components and millions of words. Nonetheless, we think these modifications are beneficial. World of Warcraft is designed to develop over time, and new players from all walks of life and all corners of the globe join us every day to experience our in-game material for the first time. As a group, we want the world kids see to be a reflection of our skills and values. Goofy jokes and adult innuendos are, and will probably always be, a part of WoW. Nonetheless, we must consider if some aspects of that environment are inviting to all participants. In other words, we want our jokes to be inclusive rather than dismissive.”
That includes items such as the reclining semi-nude elf artwork that was replaced with a bowl of fruit in September, causing such a stir. The company adds that “some of the imagery that populates our environment is often re-used throughout the game.” “In certain circumstances, we may choose to alter particular parts completely to ensure that this work does not seem in a disrespectful manner.”
Blizzard also claims that it gathered input from players on “practically every element of the game” during this period, which has “inspired numerous gameplay changes [it’s] working on for patch 9.1.5.” One example is all of the customisation choices that are now available, despite Blizzard assuring us at BlizzConline that they wouldn’t be; this includes the inclusion of an incubus demon as a future option for Warlocks who don’t like the traditional succubus.
Due to a lengthy series of controversies in the MMO and gaming sector over the past several years, including the Blitzchung boycott, huge layoffs, labor conflicts, and executive pay debacle, Activision-Blizzard is regarded a problematic business in the MMO and gaming industry. The company was sued by the state of California in the summer of 2023 for fostering a work environment that was riddled with sexual harassment and discrimination, and the company’s disastrous response has added to Blizzard’s ongoing pipeline issues and the widespread perception that its online games are on the decline. Multiple state and federal authorities are investigating the business as of autumn 2023.