Overwatch will rename the character McCree in response to his real-life namesake's involvement with the Activision Blizzard lawsuit and surrounding allegations.
Blizzard announced the change on the official Overwatch Twitter account, saying that "it's necessary to change the name of the hero currently known as McCree to something that better represents what Overwatch stands for."
While it doesn't directly address the reason for the change, the real-life Jesse McCree was a Blizzard designer who departed the studio earlier this month along with several other high-profile employees in the wake of the lawsuit alleging hostile work conditions and discrimination against women at Blizzard.
A message from the Overwatch team. pic.twitter.com/2W3AV7Pv6XAugust 26, 2021
Changing the name of a central character in the game's fiction "will take time to roll out correctly," according to the announcement, so the change will not be reflected immediately. It also means a story arc which includes the character that was originally planned to kick off in September has been delayed until later this year, and the launch of a new Free-For-All map will take its place in the content rollout plan.
The Overwatch team has said it will avoid naming characters after real employees going forward, and it will be "more thoughtful and discerning" about putting real-life references in the game. As for why he was the only playable character to be named after a Blizzard employee to begin with, former lead writer Michael Chu explained in a Wired video back in 2017 (opens in new tab) that the team just couldn't think of a better cowboy name.
The real-life McCree is included among the lengthy list of "additional Blizzard contributions" in the Overwatch development credits, but is mostly known for his work on World of Warcraft and Diablo 3.