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Blizzard is adding ethnically diverse character skins with World of Warcraft: Shadowlands

Fifteen years after launch, players will be able to customise their character to match their ethnicity

World of Warcraft players will finally be able to have their character's skin colour match their own thanks to the upcoming Shadowlands expansion.

Blizzard announced the new customisation options at Blizzcon this weekend, and said the changes will apply to all races -- even fantasy ones, like trolls and the undead.

Diversity in games is a much more prominent topic today than it was in 2004, but our sister site Eurogamer spoke to the developers to find out why it's taken 15 years to introduce these options.

Senior producer Michael Bybee attributed it to the need for balancing resources. In the past the World of Warcraft team has invested a "tremendous amount of resources" into HD updates for its player models with a previous expansion, but wanted to ensure it made the same effort when introducing more diversity options.

"What we really didn't want to do is just slap a new skin colour on there and say, 'Yep, done, we've got diversity,'" he said.

"Instead what we're doing is we're actually remodelling the faces of these characters to match what might actually make sense for that particular ethnic background. Which takes time
-- but we wanted to do it right."

World of Warcraft: Shadowlands is due for release next year.

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James Batchelor avatar

James Batchelor


James Batchelor is Editor-in-Chief at GamesIndustry.biz. He is based in Essex and has been a B2B games journalist since 2006