Jeff Kaplan, vice president of Blizzard and game director of Overwatch, leaves Blizzard. The announcement comes from Overwatch’s official website. Aaron Keller, a founding member of the Overwatch team and Blizzard veteran, will be taking over as game director.
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.
Aaron Keller, new game director of Overwatch
Jeff Kaplan has been the public face of Overwatch before leaving Blizzard, contributing to the promotion of the game, as well as interacting with the fans. Prior to his work in Overwatch, he had also worked as a quest designer for World of Warcraft and quality assurance for Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos.
He initially pursued a career in film and acquired a graduate degree in creative writing. He never expected to get a job in the video game industry due to his lack of programming skills.
Jeff Kaplan being discovered by Blizzard
After being involved in the MMO game, Everquest, he joined the “Legacy of Steel” guild, where became a well-recognised player for his accomplishments and even had his commentary about the game posted to the guild’s website.
Kaplan talked about his map-making attempts, which caught the attention of his guild’s leader, Rob Pardo, who was the lead designer at Blizzard for Warcraft III at the time. Kaplan was aware that some of his guild members were Blizzard employees.
Pardo invited Kaplan to Blizzard offices in LA, where he was introduced to the other guild members and even showed him World of Warcraft, which had been unannounced at the time. World of Warcraft would become one of the biggest MMORPG of all time.
Pardo suggested that Kaplan applies for a job as a quest designer for World of Warcraft; Kaplan took his advice and was hired by May 2002, realizing that his invitation to Blizzard offices was an informal job interview.
Working on Overwatch
In February of 2009, Kaplan announced he was stepping down from game direct for World of Warcraft to work on a new project, which would later be known as Titan. After some development issues, Titan was cancelled in September 2014.
Only 40 members of the Titan team had not been reassigned to other projects, and they were tasked to come up with a new IP within a few weeks, else they would also be reassigned.
Kaplan and Chris Metzen, who had been creative director of World of Warcraft, led the team to take some gameplay and creative elements from Titan to create a team-based shooter, which would eventually become Overwatch.
When Overwatch launched, it became extremely successful at Blizzard, earning more than $1 billion in revenue within its first year and having more than 35 million players worldwide. It was then that Kaplan decided to make himself the public face for Overwatch.
Jeff Kaplan’s departure from Blizzard
Neither Blizzard nor Jeff Kaplan himself gave a reason as to why he left Blizzard, which makes it all the more strange, given that this comes during the development of Overwatch 2, which isn’t even expected to launch this year.
iam 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.iwant to express my deep appreciation to everyone at blizzard who supported our games, our game teams and our players. butiwant 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.ihope you do the same.
However, Overwatch and Overwatch 2 should be in good hands as Aaron Keller is a founding member of the Overwatch team and an 18-year veteran of Blizzard.
It is unknown where Jeff is currently headed, but wherever he goes, we wish him the best of endeavors. He will always be a beloved figure in the Overwatch community.
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