In the wake of the lawsuit against Activision Blizzard, World of Warcraft has introduced a number of unpopular changes to in-game content. WoW’s Director Ion Hazzikostas has now responded to the criticism.
Following the lawsuit against Activision Blizzard for fostering a “pervasive frat boy culture” within the working environment, World of Warcraft made changes to in-game content which were deemed inappropriate by the studio.
From removing the term ‘greenskin’ when referencing the title’s Orcs, to gutting a series of seemingly inappropriate voice lines, the decisions have divided the community. WoW’s biggest streamer, Asmongold, called for “real action” instead of just virtual “performative action.”
Taking the time to respond to these concerns in an interview with VentureBeat, WoW’s Director, Ion Hazzikostas, adressed the community’s reaction.
WoW’s director addresses backlash
As tensions within the fanbase continue to mount, Hzzikostas has addressed the idea that the changes are simply a “smokescreen” or “political.”
“There’s a range of folks. You have folks who see this as political or unwelcome,” he said. “‘Just focus on making a fun game. I don’t care about this stuff.’ On the other end, there are those who have expressed concern that we’re almost doing this as a smokescreen. Rather than actually tackling the hard issues, we’re just changing some words in a game.
“This isn’t an ‘or.’ It’s an ‘and.’ We understand that we’re not fixing systemic injustice by changing an emote in World of Warcraft. But why not do that while we’re also working on larger cultural unity and diversity and safety issues and more?”
Concluding that “we want WoW and Azeroth to be a positive place,” he confesses “that work is still underway.”
As Hazzicostas and the WoW team continue to remove “pieces of our game that, over the course of 17-plus years now, that were not necessarily the products of a diverse or inclusive range of voices,” it’s likely that we’ll see more adjustments in the future.
Some of these may drop with the upcoming Patch 9.1.5, which has already seen an NPC inspired by controversial Cannibal Corpse singer, George ‘Corpsegrinder’ Fisher renamed following fan concerns. Specifically designed to tackle toxicity, it’ll be interesting to see how Azeroth’s player landscape continues to shift.