Blizzard continues changing some older World of Warcraft content, including NPC joke and flirt lines, just after also tweaking some emotes to no longer be directed at other players or to require consent. The latest PTR notes also reflect some improved reporting capabilities and even several new emotes.
The changes to WoW come at a contentious time where the company is facing several investigations and lawsuits over accusations of discrimination, sexual harassment, and hostile work environments. Activision Blizzard settled recently with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and fired several former employees who had been accused of harassment. After this, Blizzard began making some changes to its games to both remove those former employees' names from various NPCs, items, characters, and places.
That this is happening at a time when the legal issues are happening, including California's extensive lawsuit, isn't going unnoticed. But the new changes affect options for /flirt or /joke. WoWHead notes that some of the ones removed included voiced lines like "Are you sure you're not part-demon? I find myself wanting to stalk you". These removals cover a wide range of lines and it's not clear if they'll be replacing them with new voiced lines or just leaving what remains as is.
They're not just changing or removing options, though. This week, one update mentioned that several emotes were adjusted to no longer change when targeting players. "Some of these emotes seem to have harmless intentions at a glance, but when used while targeting another player, their intentions can turn unexpectedly suggestive or intrusive," read the update notes. These include whistle, spit, moon, drool, and fart, with others completely removed, like kick, stink, shake, and moan. Two others, pounce and groan, were adjusted, and four new ones were added: huzzah, magnificent, impressed, and wince.
While reception to change can vary and the World of Warcraft community is no exception, Blizzard seems to not be done making adjustments. New reporting options include even immediate action for serious offenses. Some may think this is just in response to the legal issues, but if you give them the benefit of the doubt regardless of why this is being done, learning that something that might have been accepted or overlooked a decade or two ago doesn't work now could help make a more inviting community.