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Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan leaves Blizzard

19-year veteran Kaplan will be replaced by Aaron Keller

Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan Photo: Blizzard Entertainment
Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan is leaving Blizzard Entertainment. The company announced the personnel change on the game’s official website Tuesday, naming Aaron Keller, Overwatch assistant game director, as Kaplan’s replacement in the role.

Kaplan was frequently the public face of Overwatch, appearing front and center in developer update videos, at BlizzCon, and at Overwatch League events. Blizzard did not specify why Kaplan was leaving, nor did Kaplan himself in a statement released on the Overwatch website.

Here is Kaplan’s statement:

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.

Keller, in his own statement, addressed the elephant in the room — that Kaplan is leaving in the midst of Overwatch 2’s development. Development on the sequel is “continuing at a good pace,” Keller said, and he promised more updates soon:

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.

Blizzard showed off new gameplay and updated designs for some of the hero roster for Overwatch 2 at BlizzConline in February. The sequel is still many months off, however, as parent company Activision Blizzard said earlier this year not to expect Overwatch 2 to ship in 2021.

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