- Author: Baed
- Date: September 30, 2021
- Expansion: World of Warcraft
Following a series of ‘censoring’ of certain old paintings and achievements, Blizzard has given an encompassing response as to the new direction they are taking things of that nature. Going forward, and currently, the team will try to evaluate how respectful any questionable art or content is, and if they think it is for the better, they will remove or adjust the assets. They also mention an internal system for WoW Devs to share feedback on things in WoW they don’t think represent core values and principles, which likely led to the ‘censoring’ changes featured in 9.1.5.
Assuming that the current changes are the only one coming for now, this may mean some other joke and gag pieces the community was worried about are safe, but given that this doesn’t really clarify fully what is considered too far, we will have to wait and see. It does seem that recurring items are less likely to be changed than one time assets, and if they are changed, only elements of it could be changed to make sure it is fitting to whatever context it was reused in.
More importantly, Blizzard has clarified that existing customization content for players will not change, seemingly referring to player customization and armor, since emotes were just changed earlier this week. In addition to these goals Blizzard has set for themself, they also show a renewed interest in player expression, wanting to offer a wider range of customization and representation, giving a key example that many players have been asking for: A warlock glyph to make the succubus an incubus instead.
It is not quite clear yet how much will be added, or how soon, but it could be with the following 9.x.5 updates later this expansion.
Over the last few weeks, artists and writers across the WoW team have updated a small number of old quests, art assets, names, and dialogue that we identified as outdated and inconsistent with our values as a team. These updates are a relatively small part of a comprehensive, company-wide effort to improve the WoW team and Blizzard as a whole, but they’re important to us as developers.
In early August, we set up internal channels where the WoW team could share feedback on content that doesn’t represent who we are as a team today. During this time, we also gathered a great deal of feedback from players on practically every aspect of the game. The player feedback influenced many gameplay improvements we’re working on for patch 9.1.5, and our internal feedback identified some in-game content that is inconsistent with our goal of building an inclusive and welcoming game world.
In a game that has thousands of art elements and a word count in the millions, we recognize that these updates will amount to very few total changes overall. Nonetheless, we believe these changes are worthwhile. World of Warcraft is meant to evolve over time, and every day, new players from every walk of life and every corner of the world experience our in-game content for the very first time. As a team, we want the world they see to stand as an expression of our talents and principles.
Goofy jokes and occasional mature innuendos are part of WoW, and probably always will be. Still, we want to remain mindful of whether certain elements of that world are welcoming to all players. In short, we want our jokes to be inclusive and not punch down.
Occasionally, when determining whether to adjust content, there can be circumstances that further complicate our decision-making. For example, some of the art that populates our world is often re-used throughout the game. To be certain that we don’t have any instances in which this art appears in a way that is not respectful, in some cases, we might opt to replace specific elements entirely. It’s important to us that we ensure Azeroth is the best place it can be for everyone, and we will continue to improve our processes when it comes to this kind of decision-making.
We also want players to be able to express themselves through their characters, so we don’t intend to change existing player looks or cosmetics. Instead, we want to ensure that we’re offering a wide range of options for players to represent themselves. This work is ongoing alongside our development of new content and features. You’re going to see more of it soon in 9.1.5, and in updates to come—and where applicable, in WoW Classic as well. An example of a post-9.1.5 improvement is the creation of an incubus demon, which we can add to places where succubus models currently appear. We’re also planning to make the incubus a glyphable option for Warlocks when they summon that classification of demon.
As WoW continues to evolve and grow, we’ll keep discussing, reviewing, and acting on this kind of feedback. As always, we’re immeasurably grateful for your input, and we hope you keep it coming.
— The World of Warcraft Team