One of the flagship features of World of Warcraft’s eighth upcoming expansion, Shadowlands, is an abundance of new character customization options, including a variety of fresh skin tones. Early datamining has revealed that some of these new skin tones are shades of dark brown for the blood elves, which has drawn fiery critique from the game’s community. In response, Blizzard has promptly removed these options from the game files and issued a statement assuring the players that the white portion of the fanbase is still in total control.
“We recognize that these changes made some players uncomfortable,” reads the official statement by game director Ion Hazzikostas. “It was not our intent to call into question the implicit superiority of these players, nor will it ever be. The blood elves of Silvermoon are a slender, graceful, and intelligent people; the fairness of their skin is self-evident. Our goal was to widen the lens of players who are able to truly see themselves reflected in the game, but if we’ve caused you even a moment of mild discomfort, then clearly we’ve pushed the needle too far.”
Users on the forums, who had been quick to point out their discontent regarding the new options, were relieved to see them retracted. “I’ve spent over thirteen years playing as a blood elf whose skin looks like mine,” comments blood elf paladin Pathofthelight. “And that’s totally normal. If we allow brown blood elves, what’s next? Green blood elves? Orange goblins? I don’t understand why suddenly, Blizzard wants to inject their political agenda into WoW, but I’m glad we’ll be returning to a totally non-racialized environment. Why can’t games just be fun? For me, I mean.”
Many lore experts also brought the changes into question. In the Warcraft universe, the blood elves were former night elves who lost their purple hues after they severed their connection to the world tree, Nordrassil. While official texts never directly specify what color took the purple’s place, fans claim that it’s obvious. “Instead of the night elves’ druidic magic, these elves forged a connection with the arcane power of the Sunwell, and got sun-bleached as a result,” comments Reddit user AutumnBeige on r/WarcraftLore. “No, they didn’t get a tan. A tan would just make them purple again. UltraVIOLET light. Don’t you know anything?”
Still, some fans did genuinely want to play as dark-skinned blood elves. In order to satisfy these players, Blizzard has announced that they’ll start selling dark brown facepaint on their merch store, so that Warcraft fans can be “whatever race they like, even in the real world.”