Overwatch director Jeff Kaplan is leaving Blizzard after more than 19 years with the company. Kaplan’s departure was announced via a blog post on Blizzard’s site, along with a personal note from Kaplan himself. 18-year Blizzard veteran Aaron Keller, who was also a founding member of the Overwatch team, will be stepping up to the director role. Both Keller and Kaplan have worked closely together in their tenure at Blizzard, both on Overwatch and World of Warcraft before that.
Kaplan’s note to the Overwatch community doesn’t specify his reason for leaving the company or where he’s headed to next on his journey, and this leadership change seems to be effective immediately.
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.
Kaplan was arguably the face of Overwatch for the community, and he was the recipient of both the community’s love and ire, spawning countless memes, and ever passionate in his appreciation of the people who played Overwatch. As one of the founding fathers of the game, Kaplan has played a critical role in its development and evolution.
Keller also issued a note to the community about the leadership change, reassuring fans that Overwatch has always been a group effort, and that while they’ll miss Kaplan, the Overwatch team is confident the franchise is still in good hands. As a founding member of the Overwatch team, Keller exhibits just as much passion for the hero shooter as Kaplan.
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.
Kaplan’s departure from Blizzard is the end of an era, but he seems to leave behind a passionate team excited about bringing the next chapter of Overwatch to fans and players. We wish Kaplan the best, and we’ll keep you updated about where his journey takes him next.