Earlier this month, Diablo 4 lead level designer Jesse McCree was dismissed from Blizzard when his involvement in the now infamous "Cosby Suite" group chats came to light after the company was sued over allegations of widespread sexual harassment and discrimination. For that reason, some Overwatch casters stopped using the name of the Overwatch character McCree, who was named after the former Blizzard employee, while a large segment of the player base demanded that the name be changed.
Today, Blizzard announced that it will rename McCree.
"We built the Overwatch universe around the idea that inclusivity, equity, and hope are the building blocks of a better future," Blizzard said in a statement. "They are central to the game and to the Overwatch team.
"As we continue to discuss how we best live up to our values and to demonstrate our commitment to creating a game world that reflects them, we believe it’s necessary to change the name of the hero currently known as McCree to something that better represents what Overwatch stands for."
It's a big change—Overwatch lore runs deep—and because of that, Blizzard is delaying a narrative arc that was planned for September, "of which McCree was a key part," until later in the year. It also promised that in-game characters will no longer be named after real people, and to "be more thoughtful and discerning about adding real world references in future Overwatch content."
A message from the Overwatch team. pic.twitter.com/2W3AV7Pv6XAugust 26, 2021
Activision Blizzard is currently embroiled in a lawsuit filed by California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing over allegations of sexual harassment, discrimination, and a "frat boy" culture at the studio. Earlier this week, the DFEH accused Activision Blizzard of stalling and disrupting its investigation of the company, including by shredding relevant documents.
It's worth noting that changing the name of an Overwatch hero is probably a much larger job than editing a text field. McCree has been one of the most present and recognizable heroes in the game since its 2016 release.
Changing his name could also mean altering in-game sprays, hero skins, maps, and even re-recording voice lines that mention his name. And not just lines from Matt Mercer's McCree performance, but also the countless lines of random banter between McCree and other heroes. Heck, one of McCree's most common voice barks literally goes, "The name's McCree."
According to a report from The Washington Post, references to the real Jesse McCree, as well as former Diablo 4 director Luis Barriga and former WoW designer Jonathan LeCraft, will also be scrubbed from World of Warcraft. Blizzard confirmed the planned removal of references to Barriga and LeCraft to the Post, but not those to McCree.
The latest round of edits comes nearly a month after World of Warcraft developers said they will remove content that is "not appropriate" from the game, including references to former senior creative director Alex Afrasiabi, one of the central figures in the DFEH lawsuit.