It is truly the end of an era. Jeff Kaplan, the director of Overwatch, and one of the key, driving forces behind World of Warcraft’s initial, incredible success, has now left Blizzard. Jeff Kaplan famously spoke out against Blizzard last year when the company condemned the actions of a professional e-sports player who spoke out in favor of Hong Kong’s freedom.
Kaplan started out as a quest writer for Vanilla World of Warcraft. Brought in by the geniuses behind such games as Starcraft, Warcraft, Diablo, The Lost Vikings, and more, Kaplan was discovered by being a tremendous player in Everquest. At the time, Blizzard was a company by gamers, for gamers. Once on board, some of Kaplan’s greatest quest achievements include writing the quests for Westfall and Duskwood. After Wrath of the Lich King, Kaplan would go on to work on the never-released MMO, Titan, followed by directing Overwatch. It was an emotional announcement when he and creative genius Chris Metzen announced the first new Blizzard IP in many years.
It is no overstatement to say that the loss of Jeff Kaplan is catastrophic for Blizzard. The company has already lost Chris Metzen, David Brevik, Mark Kern, Mike Morhaime, and so many other developers who are simply irreplaceable. In an era where people are treated as replaceable commodities, Blizzard is proof that you cannot replace the very greatest individuals at what they do. It’s just not possible.
Kaplan gave no indication as to why he is leaving Blizzard. For Activision Blizzard, they should be very concerned should he join other former Blizzard employees who have created their own studios. For Overwatch 2, the loss is indication to potential players that the game may not be of the quality or direction that Blizzard was once known for. It must be remembered that Overwatch, upon release, was the most popular game in the world. This only changed once the Overwatch team was forced to focus a huge portion of their time on e-sports, ultimately drying up their ability to continue releasing steady content. In fact, it was Jeff Kaplan at the time who pushed back against Blizzard and ensured that the game would avoid being a transaction-heavy, pay-to-win monetary scheme. With their ability to create content greatly damaged, Fortnite quickly overtook Overwatch, and Overwatch League has been a questionable decision.
Kaplan’s final statement leaving Blizzard reads as the follows:
“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.” — Jeff Kaplan’s Farewell Statement
Heroes may never die, but in this case, many heroes may be forced to greener pastures. We wish Jeff Kaplan and his family all the very best. He is not replaceable, and Overwatch will be lesser due to his loss. Here’s to all the great games he may yet still make separate from Activision Blizzard. Kaplan is one of the biggest names in all of video game development, so for the industry, we hope he continues somewhere with something.
The loss of Kaplan marks the final legacy genius leaving Blizzard… and thus the death of the Blizzard we fondly remember.
For honor, Tigole!
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