Overwatch director and Blizzard veteran Jeff Kaplan is leaving the company.
Kaplan announced his departure today as part of a larger blog post from Blizzard detailing leadership changes for the Overwatch team, which is still hard at work on Overwatch 2. Aaron Keller, previously assistant director on Overwatch, will take Kaplan's spot on the dev team.
"It was truly the honor of a lifetime to have the opportunity to create worlds and heroes for such a passionate audience," Kaplan said in his letter. "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."
Leadership departures aren't always a sign of troubled development, but coupled with Overwatch 2's prolonged and often vague reveal cycle, this news has left many fans worried for the sequel. Seemingly getting ahead of these concerns, Keller stressed that "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," Keller added.
Kaplan joined Blizzard some 19 years ago as a Warcraft 3 designer and continued to work as a designer on World of Warcraft and its Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King expansions. He went on to work on Titan, the troubled and eventually cancelled project that became the foundation of Overwatch. After Overwatch's explosive launch, Kaplan quickly became the public face of the game – he was to Overwatch what Ben Brode was to Blizzard's Hearthstone – and an iconic figure among the game's community.
Inside Blizzard's plans to make Overwatch 2 a "true sequel" that "expands what Overwatch means to players."