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Blizzard Explains the Card Art "Nerfs"

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The latest Hearthstone patch unexpectedly brought changes to the artwork of some cards that have been around for a while. Needless to say, this unannounced change was met with criticism, as well as plenty of speculation as to why it was done. Blizzard has officially responded to it.

Some of the card art "nerfs" were accompanied by changes to card's names. The cards that were changed are: Succubus (now called Felstalker), Mistress of Pain (now called Queen of Pain), Windfury Harpy, Secretkeeper, Eviscerate, Bite, Deadly Shot and Headcrack.

Here is an image from u/mrhossie with the before and after of the affected cards.

4d7j7l5wbq731.png

The response was given to Kotaku who approached Team 5 on this very heated subject. Here's what Blizzard's spokesperson had to say:

Quote

The recent changes were applied to make those cards more visually cohesive and consistent with the art style of Hearthstone today. 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 Warcraftthough we still love being a part of that universe. We’ll always be looking for ways to deliver on the game’s unique style, charm, and personality.

PC Gamer also had a very interesting article, where they talked to Dave Kosak about this issue. Apparently, the change had nothing to do with China - whose strict video games regulations don't allow the depiction of blood, skeletons and profanity (as well as a lot of other weird things).

Kosak told PC Gamer that:

Quote

[...] after reviewing the full Hearthstone set, Blizzard decided that the art on some of the cards simply didn't meet its standards, and that Blizzard "wouldn't print those same cards today." "We went back and really just brought everything up to our standards," Kosak said. "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."

Moreover, Kosak confirmed that some of the changes were aimed at toning down the portrayal of profanity and violence in the game (although designer Liv Breeden noted that one card, Headcrack, was updated because it was just too dark and hard to read) but emphasized that the decision was driven not by external forces, but "just kind of bringing it up to the standards we felt really good about today." 

The article concludes that this won't necessarily be the last batch of Hearthstone card art to be changed.

Earlier this year, the mage Hero Jaina also had its artwork adjusted to show less cleavage.

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All these changes align with China's censorship policy. The one with some blood is the best evidence, since no EU or American laws forbid a mild violence and amount of blood for that rating, however for Chinese market they need to remove any trace of blood (in addition of removal of some more skimpy outfits too of course). It's weird, since they could just roll these changes only for Chinese client, like they did with WoW for example.

Edited by Arcling
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8 minutes ago, Arcling said:

All these changes align with China's censorship policy. The one with some blood is the best evidence, since no EU or American laws forbid a mild violence and amount of blood for that rating, however for Chinese market they need to remove any trace of blood (in addition of removal of some more skimpy outfits too of course). It's weird, since they could just roll these changes only for Chinese client, like they did with WoW for example.

This would be true but they kinda forgot to remove blood from Whirlwind and another Warrior card (I think it was the 4/3 Charger)

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6 minutes ago, Arcling said:

All these changes align with China's censorship policy. The one with some blood is the best evidence, since no EU or American laws forbid a mild violence and amount of blood for that rating, however for Chinese market they need to remove any trace of blood (in addition of removal of some more skimpy outfits too of course). It's weird, since they could just roll these changes only for Chinese client, like they did with WoW for example.

Yes, these changes align with China's censorship policy, but Hearthstone already has a Chinese client that's drastically different from the American one, where all of the cards are compliant with their censorship. China isn't the reason for these changes.

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48 minutes ago, Zadina said:

This would be true but they kinda forgot to remove blood from Whirlwind and another Warrior card (I think it was the 4/3 Charger)

Probably an oversight, nothing says it can't be changed in the future, if that's the direction they are going, whether due to China or their own weird internal policy. Nothing law-related forces them to change these in related regions, and Chinese clients are separate (that's why these changes shouldn't be in EU and NA, perhaps they don't want the hassle to prepare different art for specific region anymore).

Edited by Arcling
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Complete and utter BS. Windfury Harpy is the only one I'd consider subpar art and I like the new one much better but I'm very disappointed with the rest of the changes.
Mistress/Queen of Pain looks far too strong to be a lowly 1/4.

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Scandal aside - I think it's not really fair with the original artists. Did they give them a chance at least to redraw their art in line with Blizzard's current idea of Hearthstone?
I still have a huge batch of original WoW TCG cards, and some card arts are marvelous - no wonder they provided a solid foundation for building Hearthstone. My personal opinion is that they should employ more of those artists, like James Zhang, Zoltan Boros, Clint Langley or Alex Horley. These people can do more than just generic fantasy art. Actually they are best at doing more than that! It's understandable that 10 years ago digital art was not at that level it is today, so they want to give some of the cards a more fresh, sharper, colorful (or even more cartoonish) look, because that looks more appealing on an LCD screen than on a printed card, but I'd vouche for simply revisiting the original artwork instead of completely replacing it. So
Eviscerate, Windfury Harpy - OK.
Headcrack, Succubus, Deadly Shot - Totally not OK.

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31 minutes ago, Badadada said:

Scandal aside - I think it's not really fair with the original artists. Did they give them a chance at least to redraw their art in line with Blizzard's current idea of Hearthstone?
I still have a huge batch of original WoW TCG cards, and some card arts are marvelous - no wonder they provided a solid foundation for building Hearthstone. My personal opinion is that they should employ more of those artists, like James Zhang, Zoltan Boros, Clint Langley or Alex Horley. These people can do more than just generic fantasy art. Actually they are best at doing more than that! It's understandable that 10 years ago digital art was not at that level it is today, so they want to give some of the cards a more fresh, sharper, colorful (or even more cartoonish) look, because that looks more appealing on an LCD screen than on a printed card, but I'd vouche for simply revisiting the original artwork instead of completely replacing it. So
Eviscerate, Windfury Harpy - OK.
Headcrack, Succubus, Deadly Shot - Totally not OK.

The Succubus artist wrote on Twitter how he was happy with the change.

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9 hours ago, Arcling said:

The one with some blood is the best evidence, since no EU or American laws forbid a mild violence and amount of blood for that rating

The game is rated PEGI 7. The allowed violence at that rating is: "very mild forms of violence (implied, non-detailed, or non-realistic violence)". In my opinion, the original art of at least Deadly Shot and Bite was pretty explicit, detailed and realistic. So it is understandable that they changed it.

I'm surprised they did not change the name of Eviscerate. The art wasn't so frightening, and the changes they made to the art are rather minor, but the name itself carries explicit violence in my opinion.

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49 minutes ago, Smorod said:

I'm surprised they did not change the name of Eviscerate. The art wasn't so frightening, and the changes they made to the art are rather minor, but the name itself carries explicit violence in my opinion.

Well, first of all this is an iconic rogue ability from the Warcraft universe that goes under this name since the very beginning, changing this will bring about inconsistency to the class image across the games from the same universe.

Secondly, the word itself has no additional connotations or meanings that imply violence (towards a living being, at least), so there is even less sense in changing that. What adds this meaning is the context of ability usage in wow and card art.

Edited by Undeath

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To be honest these new card arts are just boring aside from the new mistress of pain which should just be a new card if they're going to make her look more interesting.

But like Headcrack and Bite? what the hell those are just so vanilla and less "straightforward" if that makes any sense.

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23 hours ago, Arcling said:

All these changes align with China's censorship policy. The one with some blood is the best evidence, since no EU or American laws forbid a mild violence and amount of blood for that rating, however for Chinese market they need to remove any trace of blood (in addition of removal of some more skimpy outfits too of course). It's weird, since they could just roll these changes only for Chinese client, like they did with WoW for example.

Didn't you know that Hearthstone is a Christian game?

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you know... scifi and fantasy nerds are a pragmatic people because the fiction tells of entities, monarchs, and governments that overreach. these changes are abiding to the standards of a totalitarian government in order to turn a buck.

These changes are symptomatic of Hearthstones decline and need to increase revenue from Chinese markets.

when in doubt, follow the money.

Edited by Abom

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Doublespeak and damage control.    Saying that PG-13 levels of blood were removed from card art because it "didn't meet their standards" for a Teen rated game is ridiculous.    This is all about appeasement.   Also I know there's clients for a few games but I've never seen evidence of a Chinese Hearthstone client with separate art, does anyone actually have evidence that such a thing exists?

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