In a popular Reddit thread, some vented about the cigar’s removal, assuming Blizzard was self-censoring thanks to pressure from some nefarious anti-smoking group.
However, as a Blizzard developer eventually stepped in and explained, it was simply a matter of game classification.
“Heroes of the Storm is a multi-region game with a teen rating,” wrote BlizzDev_PIGonzales.
“There are a magnitude of guidelines we have to be aware of. From a development standpoint we prioritise making heroes and skins as utilitarian as possible, if a single model can be used in all regions, that's a huge win for development.
“Making two versions means more data management, multiple duplicates of the asset (if we update an animation, it has to propagate to all versions) such as the the death ragdoll model, the facial animations, his morph into the Odin, and apply that process to every skin as well.
“This mountain of work affects multiple departments and has to be addressed every time we'd adjust Tychus. OR remove the cigar. Put the development time into more content instead of bloating the management of one character,” he or she added.
“This is a decision based on productivity. The appeal of Tychus should not hinge on a cigar anyways, and we have no issue with that aspect of his character. These scenarios emerge frequently, and the cigar-removal was a impulsive fix because we want as many people as possible to experience the same content.”
The developer also outlined examples of times Blizzard has opted to make multiple models, and the hassle that entailed.
“There was a desire to localize Gazlowe's license plate to every region. That is a ton of time spent on a small detail that you become very disenchanted with,” he or she wrote.
“We got off the hook for that one, but I'd rather remove the plate and start work on the next hero instead of spending days on license plate management (his name is spelled differently in some countries, and he even has a completely different name in some regions).”
Heroes of the Storm is currently in open beta.