Overwatch lead designer Jeff Kaplan has announced he’s leaving Blizzard.
News of this came through a letter on Blizzard’s website, where the company announced new leadership for the Overwatch team. Aaron Keller, who was a founding member of the Overwatch team, will be replacing Kaplan as the series’ lead.
Kaplan left a farewell note on the blog post, which reads as follows:
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.
Kaplan was working on the upcoming sequel Overwatch 2 as part of its leadership, and gave a fair bit of facetime to the game’s updates over the years. Before Overwatch, Kaplan worked on World of Warcraft and its expansions, and the cancelled project Titan that the team used various designs from in the making of Overwatch. Kaplan isn’t even the first major player in the Overwatch development team to leave Blizzard, as Lead Writer Michael Chu departed the studio last year.
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Keller also gave his own letter, which thanked Kaplan for his service, as well as promised new updates on both Overwatch 2 and the original game will be coming at a more rapid pace after the studio’s showcase at BlizzConline 2021.
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.