Overwatch Director Jeff Kaplan Leaves Blizzard Entertainment
Jeff Kaplan, the director of Overwatch, has announced he is leaving Blizzard Entertainment after nearly 20 years with the company.
In a personal message, Kaplan announced his departure from Blizzard Entertainment after 19 years. You can read his full letter below.
Greetings, Overwatch Community,
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.
Development on Overwatch 2 will continue with assistant game developer Aaron Keller taking over as the new director on the sequel. Keller previously worked with Kaplan on World of Warcraft.
“Jeff’s been a great leader, mentor, and friend, and he knows how much we’re going to miss him,” Keller writes in a letter to the community. “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.”
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Kaplan joined Blizzard in 2002 where he started as a designer on World of Warcraft, developing quests for the upcoming MMORPG. He eventually was credited as a game director on WoW. In 2009, Kaplan spearheaded an unannounced project at Blizzard called Titan, a first-person shooter game.
Unfortunately, Titan never came together and was officially canceled in 2014. However, Kaplan and members of the Titan team took ideas from the game and redesigned them into a team-based hero shooter now known as Overwatch.
Overwatch has been incredibly successful since its launch. With over 50 million players and numerous Game of the Year awards, Overwatch helped reinvigorate the hero shooter genre. Overwatch also spawned off its own dedicated esports series the Overwatch League which spearheaded city-based teams mirroring traditional sports leagues.
Blizzard is also developing the sequel Overwatch 2, a game designed to introduce a single-player component that fleshes out the beloved heroes of Overwatch. Though new PvP maps and heroes will still be released for both Overwatch 1 and 2.
As for the future of Overwatch 2, you can read Keller’s full letter below:
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.
Matt T.M. Kim is IGN’s News Editor