Blizzard's World of Warcraft team has decided to release a statement on recent affairs, following internal conversations of the team, which include mention that there will be World of Warcraft changes coming too.
The statement (in full below) in general doesn't say much in specifics in regards to the events that led to the lawsuit or tomorrow's expected walkout, but states that they need to take actions to make the environment more inclusive and better for their team and players. Beyond that they state that it will take a time to rebuild trust, and that the leadership says it understands it is not their place to judge when they have achieved their goals, but rather the team and community's.
As for Azeroth itself, there are no specifics but there are going to be changes coming. In the statement, they say that immediate action is being taken to "remove references that are not appropriate for our world", and presumably those are related to the treatment of minorities and women. This work is underway and the World of Warcraft changes will be coming to both the retail version in Shadowlands and World of Warcraft Classic in the future.
This would appear to also mean the reports of 'no work' being done on World of Warcraft have been blown out of proportion a bit. Given that they began from a Saturday tweet by a developer, it is likely that there was a lot of discussion over the past week and a significant slow down of work as everyone wrestled with and discussed the issues going on - and what they were going to do both as an organization and personally.
Update - July 29th, 10:15 PM:
We have seen the beginning of the World of Warcraft changes coming, and they begin with references to former senior creative director Alex Afrasiabi being removed. Afrasiabi was the only person other than Blizzard President J Allen Brack named in the lawsuit, and left last year in what has now been revealed to be for misconduct. Due to his prominence in the development of the game, and the company's love of easter eggs he was referenced a number of times. These changes were reported by Wowhead first, and here are a few of the ones that they have spotted:
- Fras Siabi's Axe from Dire Maul is now Grimm's Cigar Cutter.
- All Fras Siabi references in Stratholme, both the dungeon and pet challenge, now direct to Ezra Grimm - Such as the mini-boss Ezra Grimm, The Great Ezra Grimm quest and Ezra Grimm's Advertisement.
- All Furor items have been renamed - Foror's Compendium of Dragon Slaying is now Nostro's Compendium of Dragon Slaying. The Autographed Picture of Foror and Tigule now only features Tigule, a reference to Jeff Kaplan.
- Field Marshal Afrasiabi in Stormwind has been replaced by Field Marshal Stonebridge.
- Lord Afrastrasz at Wyrmrest Temple is now Lord Devrestrasz.
There are other changes made removing references to Afrasiabi, and these are likely to be only the beginning of the World of Warcraft changes.
Update 2 - July 30th, 5;30 PM
More information has emerged about some removals. Apparently the Field Marshal Afrasiabi hasn't been removed in World of Warcraft Classic, including Burning Crusade Classic servers. On the PTR, the servers have also removed some of the Spit Emote. There is no explanation for the change, which has prompted speculation about why this has happened.
One theory advanced is that some players were using the emote on Field Marshal Afrasiabi, while this removal would halt that. Another is that it could be done to curbed harassment of players, especially those who had purchased the deluxe editions and were riding about with their premium mounts. The only problem with this theory, is that players can still use /spit on 'name' and it has largely the same effect, albeit without cross-faction possibilities. General /spit, as in spititng on the ground, still works.
Original story continues below
Here is the statement in full from Blizzard:
It was clear from our team conversations that we wanted to put forth a statement that was representative of the World of Warcraft team’s sentiments. We asked all members of our team to send us their suggestions and feedback on how best to address the community and this is the result.
The past days have been a time of reflection for the World of Warcraft team, spent in conversation and contemplation, full of sadness, pain, and anger, but also hope and resolve. As we heed the brave women who have come forward to share their experiences, 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. Those of us in leadership understand that it is not our place to judge when we have achieved our goals, but rather for our team and our community to let us know when we still have more to do.
While we turn to our team for guidance in our internal work to protect marginalized groups and hold accountable those who threaten them, we also want to take immediate action in Azeroth to remove references that are not appropriate for our world. This work has been underway, and you will be seeing several such changes to both Shadowlands and WoW Classic in the coming days.
We know that in order to rebuild trust, we must earn it with our actions in the weeks and months to come. But we go forward knowing that we share the same vision as our community about creating a place where people of all genders, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and backgrounds can thrive and proudly call home.
--The World of Warcraft Team