Following Kaplan’s departure from Blizzard in April, development of Overwatch 2 has continued with Aaron Keller in the lead role. Kaplan had been there from Overwatch’s inception, and many were surprised to see him go after 19 years with the company.
Kaplan was not the only high-profile departure from Blizzard in 2021, as following a lawsuit alleging “constant sexual harassment” and a “frat boy workplace culture”, several others stepped down – including Chacko Sonny and Jesse Meschuk.
Noticed by an Overwatch fan on Reddit (thanks Dexerto), a pizza shop that had once borne the name “Jeph” in honour of Kaplan, had since been renamed in the latest version of the Overwatch 2 New York map.
Although it is not known if further references to Kaplan (such as a coffee cup also with “Jeph” written on it) have been removed, this would follow Blizzard’s new line on reducing real-life references in Overwatch. This came after the news that Jesse McCree, an Overwatch hero, was to be renamed, as the employee he was originally named for left the company during the above lawsuit.
McCree was named after his real-life namesake, who was lead level designer on Diablo IV, who left the company this year with no official reason stated. In a statement on Twitter, the Overwatch team said that it is “necessary” to rename McCree so that the hero “better represents what Overwatch stands for”.
As McCree was planned to have a key role in the next narrative arc planned for the game, this arc has now been delayed until later this year to integrate the change, while a new FFA map will launch in September instead.