Activision-Blizzard developers to remove inappropriate references from ‘World Of Warcraft’

"The past days have been a time of reflection"

Activision Blizzard will be removing references that are “not appropriate” from its 17-year old MMO World Of Warcraft, in the wake of a slate of sexual harassment allegations that have been levied against the studio.

In a message posted to its official forums, credited to the entire World Of Warcraft team, the developers say that “the past days have been a time of reflection”, as they “heed the brave women who have come forward to share their experiences.”

The team goes on to say “we stand committed to taking the actions necessary to ensure we are providing an inclusive, welcoming, and safe environment both for our team and for our players in Azeroth,” the setting of the game, and that they will judge success in that goal based on community feedback.

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World of Warcraft. Credit: Activision Blizzard

Along with “internal work to protect marginalised groups and hold accountable those who threaten them”, the WoW developers say they will “take immediate action […] to remove references that are not appropriate for our world.”

Changes are set to come into effect “in the coming days” and will be seen in both the ‘main’ game, currently on its Shadowlands expansion, and World Of Warcraft Classic, which presents the game as it was when it launched almost two decades ago.

Exactly what the references are that will be changed is unspecified, but as PC Gamer notes, they may include removing mention of Alex Afrasiabi, former senior creative director on the game. Although Afrasiabi left Blizzard in 2020, he has an in-game quest-giving character named after him, a quest that alludes to his name, and references to Afrasiabi’s own player characters spread across game lore.

Afrasiabi is named in the lawsuit that California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing has filed against the company over its alleged “frat boy culture” and entrenched sexism.

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The lawsuit against Activision Blizzard was filed on July 20, and the impact has been felt already. Another of the company’s games, Hearthstone, has seen its latest DLC released with no fanfare, as developers say “having any celebration is a hard sell right now“.

Elsewhere, Activision Blizzard employees are set to strike today (July 28) to show their frustration with how management has responded to the allegations of harassment. Workers are calling for more diversity in hiring practices, and more transparency of pay and benefit packages.

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