Let’s Talk About The Mysterious Graves’ Cigar
If you’ve been playing League of Legends for long enough, then you’ve probably seen a lot of major changes happen. From the visual update to the individual champion reworks, League of Legends is constantly being updated.
Although most League of Legends changes have logical reasoning behind why the changes were made, some changes have remained a mystery for a long time. One of those mysteries is the tale of Graves’ Cigar.
This new addition to Graves’ splash art was praised by many players as it matched his character and lore background perfectly. However, as soon as the new cigar was introduced, it seemingly vanished overnight without an explanation. Where we just imagining he had a cigar or did all of this really happen? This burning question has lead us to explore the details behind the famous cigar and find out what caused it to disappear.
Here’s the truth behind the 3-year mystery.
The Original Graves Splash Art
Back in 2014, after 3 years of being in League of Legends, Graves received a much-needed splash art update. In this new splash art, there was a new addition to Graves which matched his character very well. The gun slinging sharpshooter had his very own cigar!
Here’s what Graves’ new splash art looked like after the update:
As you can see, it was a fantastic improvement on his original splash art which was rather outdated and missing that special something.
However, less than a month after that new splash art was released it was quickly removed and replaced with this:
It might look the same, but in fact it’s not. Take a closer look at Graves’ face:
Would you look at that? It seems Graves’ cigar has been photoshopped out for no apparent reason!
Graves’ short lived cigar caused a lot of complaints in the community as people really loved the new addition. Many threads began to pop up on the official League of Legends forums with players demand answers to this act of treachery.
Interesting enough, around the same time the new splash art was released, Riot also released a cinematic trailer, A New Dawn. If you skip to around the 1:46 mark and look closely, you’ll notice Graves leading his group across the rift. However, if you look closely you’ll notice something smoking in his mouth, yes a cigar!
What Is the Meaning Of This?
Speaking on the Riot forums, Riot employee RiotSilver gave a brief answer as to why Graves’ cigar was actually removed. Essentially, the addition of the cigar into the game brought up some censorship issues with some areas around the world. As you probably know from playing other games, the content and nature of a game will often affect its rating. This means a game that includes alcohol, drugs and tobacco is going to get a higher age rating compared to one without. Since League of Legends is primarily aimed at young teenagers, it would be a nightmare if certain countries where to change it to 18+. This would stop some people from being able to play and game and therefore affect the overall player base.
Since the risk was too high of the game being censored in certain regions, Riot decided to just revert the changes to the original. After all, Riot already had a Teen rating from ESRB, so the chances are other regions would give it a similar rating.
But what about the cinematic? Why didn’t they delete that and upload a new censored version?
Well as RiotSilver explains in his post, the laws differ when it comes to the game and external content such as the cinematic trailers. Since splashes are part of the core game, they are always treated differently than another other external content. It’s like if you play the game, then you’re probably going to see Graves’ cigar in his splash art at some point, even if you don’t want to. Think about when you join a game with other players, and the loading screen appears. However, nobody is forcing you to watch the cinematic trailers that Riot produce (although they are awesome!).
This slight difference is what allowed Riot to keep the cigar in the cinematic but remove it from the splash art.
Graves’ Cigar Returns?!
Once Grave’s cigar was removed it looked like it may never return thanks to a few regions being actively against tobacco use. However, Riot wasn’t going to give up that easily.
After almost 3 years of no cigar, one day a miracle happened, IT RETURNED. But how? How can Riot risk their age rating by letting the cigar back into the game? Well, Riot had a clever trick up their sleeve.
Instead of just updating Graves’ splash art with the new one, Riot made it so certain splash arts would be displayed in certain countries. This meant Riot could display Graves’ cigar in countries like the United Kingdom and USA, while using the censored one in countries like China.
Interestingly enough it isn’t just Graves’ Cigar that is censored. Other in game changes include Vladimir’s blood pool which is red in most countries but is actually black in China. This is to combat China’s strict laws on violence in video games.
To do this Riot packages several variations of splash art and in game details with their game. Then depending on which country the game is connected from, the client will show the appropriate changes.
A post on Ask Riot explains the process in a bit more detail:
“We’re adding some new data that says which types of content, like “Tobacco” or “Blood”, are allowed in each country. Then we’re adding some new data to each game server that says which region you’re playing in. If your region is tagged as safe for tobacco use, we’ll swap Graves out to use the edgier splash. Outside of the game, we’ll be adding similar technology as appropriate, always careful not to accidentally show restricted content in areas where that may endanger our rating (and thus prevent many players from being able to get on the Rift).”
So there you have it, the mystery is finally solved, and Graves’ cigar has returned!