After 19 years at Blizzard Entertainment, Jeff Kaplan will be leaving the company. Kaplan helped design elements for World of Warcraft, however he is famously known as the Lead Designer on the popular hero shooter Overwatch.
Kaplan was the most visible face of the Overwatch team. From hosting the development updates to even starring in a yule log video around the holidays, Jeff Kaplan became a well known and beloved face among the Overwatch community. He even earned the nickname of “Papa Jeff” with many fans.
Kaplan left this personal message on the official Overwatch website:
“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.
Taking Jeff Kaplan’s place on the Overwatch development team will be founding team member Aaron Keller. Keller is an 18 year veteran at Blizzard Entertainment, and worked side by side with Kaplan on developing Overwatch.
Keller posted the following on the official Overwatch website regarding Kaplan’s departure and his new position:
“Greetings, Overwatch Community,
Jeff’s been a great leader, mentor, and friend, and he knows how much we’re going to miss him. 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.
I love Overwatch. From our first pieces of concept art, to the first maps we built, to the first time I was able to run around as Tracer (who at that early point shot laser beams out of her eyes), this game has just clicked with me. I love its inspiring, hopeful, beautiful world worth fighting for. I love its characters—larger than life, colorful, powerful, and global. And most of all, I love the fast, fluid gameplay requiring teamwork, situational awareness, and quick decision making.
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.
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.
After the announcements, lots of speculation quickly followed on social media.
— Qixotica, Dragonslayer Elect (@Qixotica) April 20, 2021
This just makes the Overwatch 2 announcement even funnier
— FestusFlask (@FestusFlask) April 21, 2021
RIP Blizzard 1991-2008
— grumman600 (@grumman600) April 20, 2021
Jeff and his family should be very proud of what he was able to accomplish and he should go down as one of the most positive and outstanding influential people in gaming history
What begins must also come to an end. Thank you Jeff!
— Samito (@SamitoFPS) April 20, 2021