Jeff Kaplan, Game Director for first-person shooter competitive game Overwatch, announced he will be leaving Blizzard.
Released in the official Overwatch blog post, Blizzard Entertainment announced Jeff Kaplan, famously known as the “face” of Overwatch, will be leaving the development team. Aaron Keller, a Blizzard veteran and founding member of the Overwatch team, will fill in the role of game director now.
Keller released a full statement regarding Jeff’s departure as well as an update on the upcoming Overwatch 2:
Greetings, Overwatch Community,
Jeff’s been a great leader, mentor, and friend, and he knows how much we’re going to miss him. I’ve been lucky to work alongside him and the rest of the Overwatch team for many years in building something that continues to inspire people all around the world, and I’m honored to carry the torch forward.
I love Overwatch. From our first pieces of concept art, to the first maps we built, to the first time I was able to run around as Tracer (who at that early point shot laser beams out of her eyes), this game has just clicked with me. I love its inspiring, hopeful, beautiful world worth fighting for. I love its characters—larger than life, colorful, powerful, and global. And most of all, I love the fast, fluid gameplay requiring teamwork, situational awareness, and quick decision making.
I also recognize that making games at Blizzard has always been a group effort and never about just one point of view. Together with the rest of the team I feel fortunate that we have a deep bench of development and creative leaders, numerous veteran Blizzard artists and designers, and some extremely talented new blood as well—along with tons of support throughout the company for the live game and for Overwatch 2.
Speaking of Overwatch 2, development is continuing at a good pace. We have an exceptional vision we’re executing on, the reaction from many of you to the updates we shared at BlizzConline thrilled us, and we have exciting reveals planned for this year and beyond as we ramp to launch. We’ll be sharing more frequent updates about Overwatch 2 progress and new features in the live game with you all very soon.
While I have no pretenses about filling Jeff’s shoes, I’m excited to step into the game director role and continue to be part of a team that’s putting all of its heart, talent, and focus into the next iteration of Overwatch, and I’m honored to continue serving this incredible community.
Famous Game Director Jeff Kaplan Leaves Blizzard
Jeff Kaplan also issued a personal comment:
i am leaving Blizzard Entertainment after 19 amazing years.
it was truly the honor of a lifetime to have the opportunity to create worlds and heroes for such a passionate audience. i want to express my deep appreciation to everyone at blizzard who supported our games, our game teams and our players. but i want to say a special thanks to the wonderful game developers that shared in the journey of creation with me.
never accept the world as it appears to be. always dare to see it for what it could be. i hope you do the same.
In terms of public perception, Kaplan was the unintended mascot for Overwatch. With every new update, Kaplan would appear on video to break down their decision making for game balances, announcements, and more. His appearance was welcomed by the growing community, even to a comedic extent. YouTuber dinoflask gained a large popularity for compiling Kaplan’s videos into hilarious parodies.
What Does This Mean For Overwatch 2?
While Kaplan’s leave is abrupt, the team at Blizzard seems more than confident to carry out the vision of Overwatch 2. From its showcase at BlizzCon21, the sequel is looking to be just as ambitious as the first game. With tons of gameplay modifications, new maps, heroes, and more, fans have a lot to look forward to.
Overwatch 2 is said to release in 2022.