Hearthstone’s releasing its next big expansion, Saviors of Uldum, in August, but a July 1 patch has come ahead, shuffling cards, their effects and generally cleaning up ahead of the content drop to come in August.
However, this one seems to have upset Hearthstone players who are now accusing the team of censorship in response to eight cards getting a fresh look in this latest patch.
Some of the more violent art has been replaced: Deadly Shot featured an arrow thudding into the chest of an armoured figure, while Bite showed an animal biting another creature with bloodied jaws. Both of these have now been replaced, with images of an arrow in flight and an animal snarling, respectively. Eviscerate meanwhile keeps the same art, except some blood from the artwork has been removed.
Art featuring female characters in provocative poses has also been changed. Secretkeeper and Windfury Harpy have both received new art that leaves them clad in revealing costumes but in a less sexualised pose.
Meanwhile, Mistress of Pain has been renamed Queen of Pain, and changed to different artwork.
Meanwhile, the card called Succubus has been changed completely, renamed the Felstalker. The card is identical, although it’s a non-humanoid demon to replace the Succubus, best known in folklore as a female demon believed to have sexual intercourse with sleeping men.
It’s unsure why Hearthstone took this approach, but a Blizzard spokesperson has said to Kotaku that: “The recent changes were applied to make those cards more visually cohesive and consistent with the art style of Hearthstone today.”
Fans are suggesting these changes are to bring the game in line with Chinese content guidelines, while others are seemingly annoyed that they’re free to play card game is having the more sexualised elements stripped away. The community also got upset when Jaina Proudmoore, a female hero in the game, got an art change that added an undershirt to her attire, covering her cleavage.
Talking to PC Gamer about the changes, lead mission designer Dave Kosak said that content guidelines weren’t the reason behind the change. “We went back and really just brought everything up to our standards.It wasn’t because we were looking at ratings, or international [regulations], or anything like that. We really just wanted our artists to feel good about everything in the set.”