After almost twenty years at Blizzard Entertainment, Vice President Jeff Kaplan has left the company. Kaplan was the lead game designer on Overwatch, a role that will be taken over by assistant game director Aaron Keller.
Aaron Keller has been a critical part of the Overwatch team. He helped create Overwatch as an original team member, working alongside Kaplan for over 18 years.
Kaplan has been the driving force behind the popular FPS title since the game’s release in May of 2016. Before his time with Overwatch, Kaplan designed elements of World of Warcraft for Blizzard Entertainment.
“Jeff’s been a great leader, mentor, and friend, and he knows how much we’re going to miss him,” Keller said of Kaplan’s career in an official statement from Blizzard. “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. I’m honored to carry the torch forward.”
Jeff Kaplan’s departure from Blizzard leaves Overwatch 2 in the wake
Overwatch has exploded in popularity since it was first released. It still amasses over five million monthly players, according to a study made in September of 2020. Kaplan revealed the plans for a successor to Overwatch, Overwatch 2, at BlizzCon 2019 alongside an eight-minute cinematic trailer. There has been little known about the progress surrounding Overwatch. However, Blizzard announced that Overwatch 2 would be delayed until at least 2022.
“Speaking of Overwatch 2, development is continuing at a good pace,” said Keller in his official statement from Blizzard. “We have an exceptional vision we’re executing on. The reaction from many of you to the updates we shared at BlizzConline thrilled us. 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 doesn’t spell death for one of the most popular FPS titles in the world. However, in the same statement from Blizzard, Kaplan did not directly mention Overwatch 2 in his departure. Overwatch fans will have to hold onto Keller’s vision for the title in the future.
“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,” said Kaplan in his final statment to fans. “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.”