Normally when a Hearthstone patch changes a handful cards, it’s on the numbers side of things. This card’s mana cost goes up or down, this card’s attack points are reduced, this card’s health is boosted; that sorta thing. But not so with this week’s update, version 14.6. While this patch did include the expected Hall of Fame additions and a few other tweaks ahead of next month’s expansion launch, it also changed the art on eight cards, even going so far as to rename two of them. This is a first for Hearthstone, and as one might expect, people have more opinions about it than Sylvanas has hits on Deviant Art. Let’s take a quick look at which cards were changed, and how:
Bite Is Less Bloody
The new Bite artwork does away with the explicit violence and gore of the original, opting instead for a cat-form Druid brandishing its chompers, implying the immediate possibility of a bite.
Deadly Shot Spares the Tauren
No longer does Deadly Shot’s artwork clearly portray the aftermath of an enormous bolt being launched from a ballista. Instead, we now see the bolt’s actual launch, and are left to imagine the viscera of an impaled minion on our own.
Eviscerate by Way of 4kids Animation
Remember when anime first started getting broadly syndicated on American television, and the localization companies responsible went to great lengths to edit blood and onigiri out of the source material? That’s basically what’s happened to Eviscerate, which no longer features a spray of blood from the man’s torso.
Headcrack Gets Wacky
You still get to deal two damage to the enemy hero, but now you get to do it as a playful goblin shooting a slingshot at a goofy skeleton! Forget all about that Undead person’s fractured skull and terrifying jaws!
Mistress of Pain Gets Promoted
No longer simply a mistress of pain, our girl is now a fully fledged queen of the dang stuff. Her new title comes with a new outfit to show off her sick abs, as well as bigger horns and literally anything to cover her butt.
Secretkeeper Keeps Her Secret
Speaking of butts, Secretkeeper’s is no longer yours to ogle. Again though, the work she’s put in on her abs will not go unappreciated. She also hasn’t had a haircut in the five years that Hearthstone has been out.
Succubus Straight-Up Gets Desummoned
Goodbye, Succubus! You’ve been a staple demon in the arsenal of every Hearthstone Warlock, ever since the day we first pledged fealty to the Burning Legion, but now it’s time to go back to Outland or wherever and give Felstalker a turn. I’m pretty sad to see Succubus go, just because I played hundreds of hours of Warlock in both Hearthstone and World of Warcraft, and my Succubus was my constant companion. I don’t have that same attachment to Felstalker, but different strokes for different folks. I’m sure the new card is just as sexy as the old one for some people.
Windfury Harpy’s Back Surgery
And finally, Windfury Harpy now assumes a posture that an actual person could, correcting the broken back and neck she suffered from previously. Perhaps the source of all that fury was her horrible lumbar situation? Anyway, her new proportions are obviously more conservative, but it would be a stretch to say that the new art isn’t provocative.
So as you can see, the common thread here is that these cards were made less violent and/or less sexual, and that’s mostly what people (read: Reddit) are upset about. Claims abound that Blizzard is “censoring” its own artwork, or that it is somehow caving to social pressure to make the game more kid friendly. This is simply not the case, according to statements made to Kotaku.
“The recent changes were applied to make those cards more visually cohesive and consistent with the art style of Hearthstone today,” the spokesperson said. “When Hearthstone first launched, we brought in a lot of artwork from the physical World of Warcraft trading card game. In the years since, Hearthstone has developed a look, feel, and personality of its own that distinguishes it from that of Warcraft.”
Alright, so, do I buy that? Not really. Nothing about Eviscerate was changed to make it “more visually cohesive and consistent” with anything, it’s exactly the same, save for the blood. And besides, card art for Hearthstone has always been done by a huge stable of artists encompassing a wide variety of styles, and that aesthetic diversity is one of the coolest parts of the game. But — and this butt is more important than Secretkeeper’s — if Blizzard did make the decision to tone done the adult nature of these cards, is that censorship?
Again, not really! Blizard’s art is Blizard’s art , it doesn’t belong to me or you or anyone else that plays Hearthstone. A decision to change something about your own dang thing isn’t censorship, it’s artistic license. If Blizzard wants to make its game more kid friendly, so that more moms buy more booster packs, that’s Blizzard’s decision to make. And if you think prioritizing monetization over artistic vision feels wrong somehow, I’ve got bad news about the rest of Capitalism.