Members of the Overwatch community – including players, content creators and even Overwatch League teams – honored Jeff Kaplan, as the former Game Director announced he was leaving Blizzard.
On April 20, Blizzard announced that Jeff Kaplan was leaving the company, stating that Aaron Keller would be taking over as Game Director with Overwatch 2 in development.
“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,” Kaplan said in a note posted to the Overwatch website.
The news was met with disdain by members of the gaming community, coming as a true shock to players.
You have got to be fucking joking me
— Stylosa (@Stylosa) April 20, 2021
Popular Overwatch YouTuber Stylosa was one of the first to react on Twitter with a simple: “You have got to be f**king joking me.”
Streamers such as ML7, Fran, and Samito were each shaken by the news, with some even thinking Jeff’s departure would push them to other games. Others, however, were more critical, claiming that the game’s direction was far behind.
waking up thinking about playing new games and then jeff quitting soon after is the biggest sign i need
— FRAN (@FRANA_OW) April 20, 2021
Jeff Kaplan leaving the Overwatch developer team was not the type of news I was expecting to read today
— mL7 (@mL7support) April 20, 2021
“The new Overwatch leadership will need to make up for the poor direction the game has been taken, we are still 3 years behind the rest of the industries’ business model,” Samito chimed in.
Several Overwatch League teams, including the Houston Outlaws, Florida Mayhem and London Spitfire, changed their profile pictures to Jeff and posted tweets honoring the game developer.
On Reddit, many users posted memes and pictures paying tribute to Kaplan. One post even included a shrine to the former Blizzard Vice President.
Jeff Kaplan will go down a blizzard legend, personally I’m very grateful for all he’s done for the industry
The new Overwatch leadership will need to make up for the poor direction the game has been taken, we are still 3 years behind the rest of the industries business model
— Samito (@SamitoFPS) April 20, 2021
“Papa Jeff shrine at my desk started off as a joke but has been here for years,” the user, moonkanin, captioned the photo. “I don’t plan on taking it down – thank you Papa Jeff for giving us Overwatch.”
The departure of Jeff is certainly a massive shake up, but Aaron Keller is promising some big news on the future of the game coming soon. In his own message to the community, the newly promoted game director wrote that they will be sharing new updates on Overwatch 2 and “new features in the live game” very soon.
It’s unclear if Keller will be partaking in Jeff’s famous “developer update” videos or how he plans on doing things differently than his predecessor.
Nonetheless, given Kaplan’s voice and presence as the head of Overwatch, many are understandably viewing this as a massive loss.