The comments on the Massively article were interesting – I had always believed in the statement that Pandaren were originally scrapped because you weren’t allowed to represent pandas in such a way in China. Evidently, that is not true, and as one commenter pointed out, Perfect World has playable panda characters. (I would hazard a guess that Perfect World may have a larger player base than Warcraft -I could be wrong- but either way that clearly demonstrates that China doesn’t have a problem with panda characters.)
Another commenter provided these to images to illustrate the point that China didn’t have a problem with Pandaren, but they did take exception to Chinese pandas wearing Japanese armour. Fair enough.
If this trademarked name isn’t simply a red herring, think of the possibilities.
What would I like to see? Make the Pandaren a new race and hero class (battle monk) which avoids the massive snit-fit that would ensue if you “gave” them to one side or the other. Or, make them a neutral race that either side could play…which would be a massive departure for Blizzard. If you don’t make them a neutral hero class race, then you would only have battle monks. If they are a neutral race, allow them to any class, and give them their own capital city.
And that idea opens up something that I would LOVE to see…a Chinese-themed fantasy city done as only Blizzard could do it. I’ve always loved the feel of the Eastern cities in Guild Wars, the Dragon Festival and so on, and I think it would be amazing in Warcraft.
*sigh* We can dream, can’t we?