Overwatch Director Jeff Kaplan Leaves Blizzard

Illustration for article titled Overwatch Director Jeff Kaplan Leaves Blizzard
Image: Blizzard

As of today, the man, the myth, the meme Jeff Kaplan is no longer a member of the Overwatch team—or Blizzard, for that matter.


Blizzard made the announcement in a blog post today. Kaplan’s director’s chair will be filled by Aaron Keller, an 18-year Blizzard veteran who has worked on Overwatch and World of Warcraft. The company also delivered one final missive from Kaplan, although sadly not in the form of a long, endearingly rambly video for old time’s sake.

“I am leaving Blizzard Entertainment after 19 amazing years,” Kaplan wrote using no capitalization, a true power move (Kotaku has made slight tweaks in the name of readability). “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.”

In his own note, Keller said he has “no pretenses about filling Jeff’s shoes,” but he’s spent years working alongside Kaplan and is “honored to carry the torch forward.” Keller also talked about the status of Overwatch 2.

“Speaking of Overwatch 2, development is continuing at a good pace,” he wrote. “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 ended his farewell note with some encouraging words.

“Never accept the world as it appears to be,” he said. “Always dare to see it for what it could be. I hope you do the same.”



Kotaku senior reporter. Beats: Twitch, streaming, PC gaming. Writing a book about streamers tentatively titled "STREAMERS" to be published by Atria/Simon & Schuster in the future.


A lot of folks know him as Jeffrey Kaplan, but he’ll always be “Tigole” to me - the screen name he went by when he started his career. Ya know, as in, “Tigole Bitties”.

Yeah, real top notch sense of classy and sophisticated humor this guy had, back when he first got hired by Blizzard (more or less purely because he was the guild leader of a hardcore raiding guild in Everquest, and he had a following within that community because he would go on long angry public rants about Everquest’s endgame content and how if he were in charge he would do things differently.)

Here’s a sample, for those curious:

“Whoever came up with this sheer fisting of an encounter can go fuck themselves. Do me a favor so I don’t waste my guild’s time on this kind of jackass shit-fest again, send me an email at tigole@legacyofsteel.net when you decide to A) Implement an encounter that wasn’t designed by a retarded chimp chained to a cubicle A.)Get a Quality Assuarance Department C) Actually beta test the fucking thing and D) Patch it live. And please for god’s sake — do it in the order I laid out for you. Don’t worry, I won’t charge you a consulting fee on that one. And for good luck you might as well E) Pull your heads out of your asses. While you’re at it rename the game to BetaQuest since you’ve used up you’re alotted false advertising karma on the Bazaar and user interface scam of ‘01.Fix the Emperor encounter. Fix Seru. Rethink your time-sink bullshit. Fix all the buggy motherfucking ring encounters (I suggest you let whoever made the Burrower one do this since that dude apparently laid off the crack the rest of you were smoking). Fix the VT key quest. Fix VT (just guessing it’s fucked up considering your track record). Don’t have the resources to fix this stuff? Move the ENTIRE Planes of Power team over to fixing Shadows of Luclin AND DO IT NOW. If you don’t fix Luclin, you jackassess will be the only ones playing the Planes of Power.”

Blizzard apparently found this sort of attitude impressive and desireable, so they hired him and put him in charge of world design for their own game.

This is the guy who pushed for endgame content in the early years to cater exclusively to hardcore raiders - dedicating huge amounts of resources to producing content that was intentionally designed to only ever be accessed by a tiny fraction of total players, by requiring massive investments of grinding time and the regular coordination of 40+ people to even be able to access raids.

This is also, if I recall, the guy behind all the weird poop related quests in early WoW. Most anyone who has played through them will know the ones I mean.

The legacy of his time at Blizzard is a strange one, and I’m not sure how I feel about him leaving, or about him ever having joined in the first place.