Days after the shock announcement that Overwatch Director Jeff Kaplan would be leaving Blizzard, the former face of the Overwatch team has left the community with one last message.
The gaming industry was blindsided on April 20 as Blizzard announced new leadership changes for the Overwatch team. After 19 years at the company, Kaplan made the decision to step down from his role in charge of the Overwatch franchise.
The news caught just about everyone off guard with many of the most popular figures left questioning his surprise departure ahead of Overwatch 2’s release. While Kaplan’s initial statement on the matter was brief, he’s now followed up with a more touching message on Reddit.
Two days after the announcement, the former Director went out of his way to thank players and ask they “take care” of the Overwatch team.
Help us thank Jeff Kaplan for being the Mercy to our Genji. Thank you for always daring to see the world as it could be.
Also, help us welcome Aaron Keller as Overwatch's new Game Director. We can't wait to continue fighting for the future with you.
— Overwatch (@PlayOverwatch) April 20, 2021
“I just wanted to sign off one last time and thank you for all of your inspiration, shared stories, highlights, feedback, criticism, and comradery,” Kaplan said. Addressing both the Overwatch the Competitive Overwatch subreddits, he likened them to characters in the very first cinematic.
The more casual side of the Overwatch community was always ‘Timmy’ (aka punch kid) in his mind. From Kaplan’s perspective, they were the “bright-eyed, optimistic” portion of the Overwatch player base.
Conversely, the competitive side was ‘Brian,’ his older and “slightly jaded” brother. However, in the end, Brian “realizes he actually loves Overwatch but just kind of forgets it along the way sometimes…”
“You’re amazing and you made my career better. You made me a better designer and game director.”
In his final line to the Overwatch community, he asked players to “please take care of the Overwatch team. They are wonderful, caring, brilliant people and they need you right now.”
A number of fans took this final sentence as an “ominous” hint at the internal state of affairs at Blizzard. However, Kaplan soon cleared things up. “I think he’s saying the opposite,” another player suggested.
“This is already heartbreaking for the morale of the Overwatch team. They don’t need the constant baseless speculations and doomsaying to add on top of losing a pillar of their team.”
Without saying a word, Kaplan agreed with this sentiment, sharing just a single arrow to support the comment.
Having led the Overwatch team since its inception, Kaplan will certainly be leaving some big shoes to fill. Blizzard has already found the next man for the job, however, as Blizzard veteran Aaron Keller will be stepping up.
There’s obviously no telling how this shuffle might impact the development of future Overwatch content. Overwatch 2 is still yet to lock in a concrete release date, though new updates appear to be on the horizon.