McCree is Overwatch’s iconic gunslinger, but some casters commentating over official competitions are now avoiding saying his name. The shift comes after Jesse McCree, the real-life Blizzard developer who the character is named after, was pictured in a now infamous “Cosby Suite” that took place at BlizzCon 2013.
Over the weekend, a fan spotted Overwatch League casters Brennon ‘Bren’ Hook and Josh ‘Sideshow’ Wilkinson appearing to avoid saying McCree’s name during the matches. Instead of saying “McCree,” they referred to him as “the cowboy.” As reported by Dexerto, Hook and Wilkinson both went on to “like” the Tweet noticing the change, and fellow Overwatch caster Mitch ‘Uber’ Leslie tweeted earlier this week that he thought this was a good idea.
A spokesperson for Blizzard esports told Kotaku it was not involved in the casters’ decision. “I can confirm that this was, in no way, a directive from the Overwatch League or Blizzard,” they said. Hook and Wilkinson did not immediately respond to a request for comment. [Update - 10:55 p.m. ET, 8/12/21: “[I] can comfortably say that it was a personal decision from Josh and I,” Hook told Kotaku in an email.]
But it’s definitely a change some fans have been clamoring for. Originally mentioned in California’s lawsuit against Activision Blizzard alleging widespread sexual harassment and discrimination, a recent report by Kotaku revealed the “Cosby Suite” at BlizzCon 2013 to be an actual room. An informal networking hotspot, it included several Blizzard developers in a booze-filled hotel room posing with a giant portrait of the comedia and, in one picture, huddled around then-World of Warcraft designer Alex Afrasiabi.
Afrasiabi is accused in the California lawsuit of repeatedly sexually harassing female coworkers and others, and sources have told Kotaku that this behavior was an open secret. Jesse McCree, a longtime Blizzard developer, was one of the people posing in the 2013 “Cosby Suite.” He was also reportedly part of a Cosby Crew chat group in which, when Afrasiabi wrote he planned to marry women coming up to the Cosby Suite, McCree responded “You misspelled fuck.”
As first reported by Kotaku, McCree and two other Blizzard developers were officially let go from the company yesterday, though Activision Blizzard did not not confirm the reason for the departures. Two sources told Kotaku that no reason was provided when teams were told internally either.
McCree’s departure, however, has now only added fuel to fan calls for the Overwatch character named after him to be given a new one. The changes might require recording new dialogue for when the character is mentioned in-game, if not impact the ongoing development of Overwatch 2. Afrasiabi, whom Activision Blizzard confirmed was terminated for his conduct early last year, has only recently had references to his name scrubbed from World of Warcraft as part of an effort to “rebuild trust” with fans.