Update: Blizzard has officially commented and stated that the change is not due to China or any external factor.
Original Story Below
Eight Hearthstone censored cards have been revealed in the latest patch notes for the game. Many of these cards were iconic and had been around since the beginning of the game, but Blizzard Entertainment has seen fit to change their art despite them having been around for several years now.
Recent patch notes had the usual stuff that a Hearthstone player would expect: new content, balance changes, and a bit of hype for the next big thing coming to the game. Unfortunately, one of the changes were eight cards that were said to have "new card art". The patch notes don't show the old versions of the cards, but a helpful Reddit user has compiled all of the changes into a single image.
Eviscerate, Deadly Shot, Bite, and Headcrack appear to have been changed to tone down their violence or remove blood. Secretkeeper and Windfury Harpy have alternate art that can be argued to be less sexy. Mistress of Pain has been replaced with "Queen of Pain" and new art, and the classic Succubus card has been entirely supplanted with Felstalker.
Why was Hearthstone censored? Blizzard hasn't officially commented on the matter as far as I can see. Some suspect that it is an effort to become more family friendly, but an equal (if not greater) portion of users suspect that this may have something to do with the Chinese market or another foreign country with weaker (or outright nonexistent) freedom of speech and/or freedom of expression.
Predictably, the /r/Hearthstone subreddit did not take the changes well. Several users invested time in making humorous posts removing objectionable content from other cards. One post in particular replaced the art with Winnie the Pooh, an allusion to an insulting nickname used for the current head of state for China.
Quick TakeWhile this change is certainly disappointing, a casual observation of the cards and their changes shows a worrying trend. More than a few other cards have violent or sexually-suggestive art and they may be on the chopping block next.
What do you think caused the debut of the Hearthstone censored cards? Do you like any of the new card art or do you prefer the old versions? Let us know in the comments below!