Overwatch director Jeff Kaplan has left Blizzard

Jeff Kaplan
(Image credit: Blizzard)

Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan, one of the highest-profile figures at Blizzard Entertainment who's well known to many fans as “Papa Jeff,” has left the company.

"It was truly the honor of a lifetime to have the opportunity to create worlds and heroes for such a passionate audience," Kaplan wrote in his farewell message. "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."

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Kaplan was at Blizzard for 19 years (here's the whole story, as he told it in 2017), and prior to Overwatch also worked as a designer and director on World of Warcraft and several expansions. He became known as the face of Overwatch through the regular community update videos posted to YouTube, but his best work—in video, at least—surely occurred in the annual Overwatch Yule Log specials, in which he would sit stone still in front of a blazing fire and Christmas tree, staring blankly into the camera while occasionally sipping from an Overwatch coffee mug.

Kaplan’s role on Overwatch will be assumed by Aaron Keller, currently the assistant game director.

"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," Keller said in his own message.

"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."

Keller also noted that development of Overwatch 2 is "continuing at a good pace," and that Blizzard will begin sharing more frequent updates on the game's status soon. We learned more about the sequel's focus on cooperative PvE missions and new hero Sojourn at BlizzCon 2021.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.