After an unprecedented weekend of amazing Overwatch League matches, fans of the franchise have a bitter pill to swallow as Blizzard announces that Jeffrey Kaplan, director of Overwatch and affectionally ‘Papa Jeff’ to his fans, leaves the company.
Aaron Keller, another developer who has been working on Overwatch since its inception will take his place as game director. This comes at a very crucial moment in the development of Overwatch 2’s progress and will likely leave many fans worried.
For myself, I don’t think we have much to fear with how much of the development and work on Overwatch 2 has been done thus far. Whether Overwatch 2 launches as a success, a failure, or somewhere in-between, it’s unlikely that one man was going to be the difference-maker. The current leadership at Activision Blizzard has tarnished the goodwill made with fans from years under the leadership of former company president and CEO Mike Morhaime.
From the various mass firings these past two years, following investor calls where Activision-Blizzard boasted record sales years to the controversy surrounding the punishment of Hearthstone player Blitzchung for his comments about the 2019 Hong Kong protests, Blizzard’s reputation has fallen more in line with an Electronic Arts.
As a long-time fan of World of Warcraft and Starcraft, I grew up wanting to see the best in the faceless corporations that made the games I love. It’s even easier to do so when you have a caring, dedicated face behind those games like Jeff Kaplan and Overwatch.
But the bottom line for the big companies will always be money and just as they’ve soured my tastes over the years as they push for profits over all else, I can’t help but wonder how the developers on the inside feel too.
In the release put out by Activision Blizzard, it included a message from Jeff to the community which you can read here.
In the coming weeks, we’ll likely learn more about why Papa Jeff choose to leave Activision Blizzard, but whatever the reasons are, I hope that whatever home he finds next brings him as much joy and happiness as Overwatch did.
Feature Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images.