Blizzard Entertainment announced on Tuesday that Jeff Kaplan, Director of Overwatch and long-time Blizzard employee, has decided to leave the company. Aaron Keller, who is also a founding member of the Overwatch team, will step into Kaplan's role as the leader of the Overwatch development team.
"i am leaving Blizzard Entertainment after 19 amazing years," Kaplan said in a personal note to Overwatch fans. "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."
Jeff signed off with: "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. gg"
While Kaplan's chapter at Blizzard is now ending, Keller's turn at the helm of the Overwatch franchise is just beginning. Keller will have big shoes to fill, as the Overwatch community is quite fond of Jeff Kaplan, with many even referring to him as "Papa Jeff" or "Overwatch Dad".
"Jeff’s been a great leader, mentor, and friend, and he knows how much we’re going to miss him," Keller said in an open letter to the Overwatch community. "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. . . 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. "
Keller also gave a small update about Overwatch 2 in his open letter to the Overwatch community.
"[Overwatch 2] development is continuing at a good pace," Keller said. "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 started with Blizzard in 2002 working as a game designer for World of Warcraft. He was moved over to the project that would eventually become Overwatch in 2009, so Kaplan dedicated over a decade of his life to designing, publishing, and supporting Overwatch and its community.
Aaron is an esports reporter with a background in media, technology, and communication education.