It’s hard to think about Overwatch without thinking about Jeff Kaplan. But as of today, that’s the reality we live in. Kaplan served as not only the lead designer but as the face of the brand. However, Blizzard has just announced that he has made the decision to leave the company after nearly two decades. Aaron Keller, an 18-year company vet, will step in as the game director going forward.
Jeff Kaplan leaves Blizzard
Jeff Kaplan has not yet given an explanation for his decision to leave Blizzard, but he did leave a final note for the 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.
Aaron Keller takes charge of Overwatch
Blizzard also took the opportunity to give Aaron Keller a proper introduction. In a message to the community, Keller expressed his gratitude to Jeff Kaplan for his leadership and friendship, and discussed his love of Overwatch, and shared a brief update on the upcoming sequel.
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.
This marks the end of an era for Overwatch, and Jeff Kaplan’s departure is sure to have a big impact. Hopefully, Keller is up to the task at hand, especially with Overwatch 2 on the horizon.