Blizzard just lost a member of the old guard. Jeff Kaplan, lead designer and de-facto public face of Overwatch, is leaving the company after 19 years. Kaplan shared a note on Twitter and through a statement, saying he feels “it was truly the honor of a lifetime to have the opportunity to create worlds and heroes for such a passionate audience,” saying goodbye to the community in the universal language of a good-sport gamer, “gg.”
He also left fans a World of Warcraft-themed message on Twitter, written in binary: “Defend the Keep.”
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Kaplan didn’t say what his next career move was, but fans may not be ready to hear it anyway. The community affectionately refers to him as “Papa Jeff” for his habit of directly talking with fans on Twitter and Reddit. Overwatch players reacted to his departure with a lighthearted, fond response.
Some of the tributes called back to Kaplan’s old EverQuest character, before he even joined Blizzard.
Others had friendly jokes at Kaplan’s expense.
Amid the warm memories of Kaplan, however, there’s been an undertone of concern. The lead designer’s departure is happening right in the middle of the development of Overwatch 2, leaving many fans worried about the sequel’s future.
Blizzard announced that Aaron Keller would be stepping in as Overwatch’s new game director — making sure to note that Keller has been a part of the game’s team since the beginning. He didn’t have much to say about the game’s future, but promised fans that Overwatch 2 development “is continuing at a good pace,” and that Blizzard would have updates to share soon.