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News from the Kaplanverse

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15 years at Blizzard, petitions to stream, shutting down trolls and then gifting them skins and WoW playtime, it's been a busy week for Jeff!

Overwatch's Game Director Jeff Kaplan is incredibly active in the community, pretty beloved by the game's fans and he's had quite the week! From shutting down a forum troll, to his 15 year anniversary at Blizzard, players demanding he stream himself playing and then apologizing to the troll from before and even gifting him some stuff!

First off it's been 15 years since he started working in Blizzard, back in the early days of World of Warcraft, where he was better known as Tigole (from his Everquest days), and his fellow devs had a nice surprise in store: a video commemorating his time at Blizzard, made in his own words courtesy of Dinoflask.

But the big news of the week was his very direct response to a bit of a troll on the OW forums, who casually made a topic very subtly called "Does blizzard even play their own game??????" and explaining his title thesis by adding "nuff said". Normally this kind of topic wouldn't really get much attention, but then, enter the Kaplan:

Quote

We play the game a lot. Looking at your profile, I've won approximately 800 more games than you have. That's not counting the daily internal playtests I am in, the time I spent in Alpha and Beta.

Did you have a specific question or are you just here trolling?

- Jeff Kaplan

As you can imagine, this slam did not go unnoticed and ended up on the OW reddit frontpage, but the story soon got an even happier ending! The troll in question actually contacted Blizzard support to try and get a message to Jeff, apologizing for his flippant post and actually explaining what made him do it in the first place (Widowmaker troubles), as well as actually giving some constructive feedback. He did get in touch with Jeff, who actually apologized and gave him a year of WoW gametime, as well as a Noire Widowmaker skin. Here's Jeff's full response, which the "troll" in question, SharkyMarky, posted to reddit:

Quote

So first, I’m sorry for calling you out publicly on our forums. It was unprofessional and lacked good judgement on my part. To explain (and not excuse) what I did, I was simply feeling worn down at the moment. My team and my company care so much about feedback. So much so that one of the company values – which is bronzed around our Orc Statue in the center of campus – is “Every Voice Matters”. We’re constantly taking critical feedback – as we should be. On a personal level, I get frustrated and annoyed when people take “shots” at us without actually stating what their issue is. How are we supposed to act on feedback if the feedback is nothing but an insult? We get tons of feedback each day that we both agree and disagree with, and we love hearing it. But it’s super demoralizing to us to simply get insulted. To imply that we don’t play our game or that we don’t love our game is just straight up false.

Our team cares so deeply for what we’ve created and equally – if not more so – for our players.

I’m really sorry I replied the way I did and I hope it hasn’t brought any unwarranted attention from other players to you. If anyone is harassing you, please let me know.

Secondly, thanks for providing such detailed feedback on Widowmaker. I know people hate when I say this, but we really are keeping a very close eye on her. Widowmaker is one of those heroes whose usefulness greatly ebbs and flows depending on the current “accepted” meta as well as the map pool. Lately, we’re seeing a rise in Widow play. We’re starting to see Widow’s in the Top 1000 and she’s getting more and more use in pro play. The resurgence of Pharah has also led to a rise in the prevalence of Widow play. Your hook suggestions are interesting and not difficult for us to implement. We do want to be careful though. Widow should have some counters. I know as much as Widow players hate Winston and D.Va diving them, that’s kind of their job. We’ve had states of the meta in both live and in beta where Widow was too dominant and the resultant gameplay was not very fun. Because of the ability to 1 shot kill heroes, we have to be extremely careful with her so there is some counterplay in the mix.

Regarding Venom Mine, when we first implemented it it did significant damage. So much so that we had to tone it down. We eventually settled on its role being more about “detection and awareness” and less about lethality. Maybe it could use a little bump on damage? It’s quite possible.

Geoff, our Hero Designer, plays a ton of Widowmaker and is very good with her. So we do have some expertise with her directly on the team. We wrestle with that collective feedback from the forums which is “why are you guys always changing stuff” vs. “Blizzard takes too long to balance”. Obviously, those two statements are in direct conflict but our forums are riddled with both statements.

Anyway, SharkyMarky, I’m really sorry. I shouldn’t have used a dedicated and loyal player like you to make a point. You didn’t deserve that.

I hope you forgive me and realize that my actions are a reflection of my own personal flaws and don’t speak directly for the awesome folks I work with here at Blizzard.

All the best to you,

Jeffrey

p.s. I’m not sure if you’re a World of Warcraft player, but please enjoy a year Subscription on me: (not putting it here lol)

If you don’t play WoW, have fun making a WoW player’s day!

- Jeff Kaplan

As you can imagine, SharkyMarky was even more apologetic after the message, and in the end even managed to get that Widowmaker skin as well. He ended his reddit post with a nice sentiment:

Quote

I was really surprised that he did that for me so if y'all think the overwatch team doesn't care about players individually they do.

I respond with... "Thank you so much Mr. Kaplan! Have an awesome day and thank you for such a great game! "

And he finishes it with..."Thank you as well. Peace, friend."

So moral of the story, appreciates the devs. Don't be rude like I was because they truly care about their players. I've learned from my mistakes that Jeff is indeed a force to be reckoned with.

- SharkyMarky


And finally in this Kaplanverse roundup, two more reddit posts got big this week. After all the troll smackdown/apologizing, one thread started a petition for Jeff to stream himself playing the game, and another asked that the community be wholesome for once and give their regards to the OW team. Jeff popped in to respond to that last one as well:

Quote

You guys are so awesome. Thanks for this post.

I am just one tiny part of an amazing team of Artists, Producers, Programmers, Designers and Audio experts (not to mention all of the support teams that help us). They're the ones doing all of the hard work and making all the cool stuff you love. I just get sent across the street to film the dev updates because they are too busy and important to do it... haha! But on behalf of Team 4 (aka The Overwatch Team), thank you guys for being the best community a game could ask for.

- Jeff Kaplan

So, Jeff Kaplan - great Game Director or the greatest Game Director?

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