This last patch we saw the introduction of new item icons for a slew of items, a list of which can be found here. In that same thread there was a general discussion about the design concepts behind the item changes, the guidelines they used in their recreation, and why they chose the particular items they did. All in all, it was a nice little gesture towards the GD community and its reaction to the new item art.
Except, of course, that it completely ignored the most common assertion made, that the reason many of the items were changed was to remove human skulls in an appeasement to Tencent and general Chinese cultural differences.
If you haven’t taken the time to notice yet, the following items have all had their artwork updated to be skull-free: Abyssal Scepter, Deathfire Grasp, and Vampiric Scepter. The only one that even resembles a skull any longer is Abyssal, and it is clearly that of a creature (mounds along the top of the head, curved spine). While this alone may not be anything to cry over, I do believe that Riot has outdone itself in trying to “cover up” something that doesn’t even need to be covered up.
Instead of ignoring the complaints and the call-outs about the icon’s acceptance in a multitude of countries, Riot is instead trying to convince us that they just didn’t like the skulls anyway. It is a little insulting, and a bit unnecessary. All Riot had to do, when releasing these item icons, was to say something akin to the following:
“In patch 3.10 we’ve updated some of our item artwork, and continue to do so throughout the rest of the season. The primary goal of the update is to solidify thematic and visual aspects of the item shop as a whole, and to polish up the icons we feel need to shape up. Additionally, we will be taking the opportunity of these updates to try and smooth out visual discrepancies that exist between regional client versions when it comes to certain item icons. This is to make it easier to watch games from region to region and to ensure that the high-quality, new icons are available for every region to use.”
There. Done. If Riot had said something like this at the beginning of the patch, before anyone had the chance to accuse, than all people could complain about would be that they didn’t like the decision, which happens every time a change occurs regardless. All in all, in two months’ time people will likely have forgotten there ever were other icons, and we’ll all have moved on to how Riot needs to nerf AP Corki for being too strong late game. But we will remember how we felt when Riot refused to acknowledge something so painfully obvious, and instead tried to dance around the issue with flashy words and dev talk.
You’d think they would’ve learned by now.