Jeff Kaplan’s time at Blizzard Entertainment is coming to an end. The lead designer and de facto public face of Overwatch is leaving the company after almost two decade, saying through a statement that it was “truly the honor of a lifetime to have the opportunity to create worlds and heroes for such a passionate audience.” Kaplan capped off his farewell in the universal language of a good-sport gamer, “gg.”
He also left fans a World of Warcraft-themed message on Twitter, written in binary: “Defend the Keep.”
Kaplan didn’t say what his next career move will be, but fans may not be ready to hear it anyway. The community affectionately refers to him as “Papa Jeff” for his habit of directly talking with fans on Twitter and Reddit. Overwatch players reacted to his departure with a lighthearted, fond response.
Some of the tributes called back to Kaplan’s old EverQuest character, before he even joined Blizzard.
Others made friendly jokes at Kaplan’s expense.
Amid the warm memories of Kaplan, however, there’s been an undertone of concern. The lead designer’s departure is happening right in the, leaving many fans worried about the sequel’s future.
Blizzard announced that Aaron Keller would be stepping in as Overwatch’s new game director — making sure to note that Keller has been a part of the game’s team since the beginning. He didn’t have much to say about the game’s future but promised fans that Overwatch 2 development “is continuing at a good pace,” and that Blizzard would have updates to share soon.