Overwatch director Jeff Kaplan has confirmed that he is leaving Blizzard after 20 years with the company. Kaplan has been at the epicenter of the Overwatch community since the beginning, providing inspiration for gamers with his journey from gamer to game dev, and facilitating a microcosm of fans that are unafraid to geek out and be a part of the Blizzard family.
The news of Kaplan’s departure is shocking, and it was revealed when the company took to the Blizzard Blog to detail the change in leadership for Overwatch going forward. Though he is leaving the Overwatch community as the game director, Blizzard promises fans that Overwatch 2 is continuing in its development under the helm of Aaron Keller. Keller is a founding member of the Overwatch team, and he will be taking over Kaplan’s role going forward.
“Speaking of Overwatch 2, development is continuing at a good pace,” said Keller in an open letter to fans. “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.”
Kaplan himself weighed in with his own personal note, saying, “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.”
Blizzard promises that a more thorough update is on the horizon. For now, we must say goodbye to Kaplan and everything he has done to keep the Overwatch community wholesome, hopeful, and excited for the future.
This shakeup is a big one and comes on the heels of a rocky several years for the company under Activision’s helm. From censorship regarding the Hong Kong protests to an array of issues regarding transparency that was once a major focus for the company, the feeling of Blizzard and what it stands for has changed dramatically through the years. The major shift was felt when Activision abruptly laid off more than 800 employees despite a profitable year back in 2019. The studio’s reputation took another hit when Activision turned around and immediately sought to hire double that number directly after the fact.
Blizzard has always been revered as one of the closest communities in gaming. With major leadership shifts in recent years and Activision’s financial push regarding several pivotal directional changes regarding the studio’s philosophy, it’s hard not to take the departure of Kaplan as a massive loss to what makes Blizzard so special.
For those curious, you can check out our Overwatch 2 game hub to learn more about the future of the franchise and where it goes from here.