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Jeff Kaplan today announced he's leaving Blizzard after 19 years. Overwatch leadership has been passed on to Aaron Keller, a Blizzard veteran and founding member of the Overwatch team, who is the new Game Director.
We want to let you know that Jeff Kaplan has decided to leave the company after a long and storied career here, and that Aaron Keller, a Blizzard veteran and founding member of the Overwatch team, will be stepping in as game director.
Aaron has been a critical part of the Overwatch team and a key driver in creating the vision for the game. He helped create Overwatch as an original member of the team, and as an 18-year veteran at Blizzard, he has worked side-by-side with Jeff for a long time, not only in building Overwatch but previously in helping to build WoW as well. A few words from Aaron:
Greetings, Overwatch Community,
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.
I love Overwatch. From our first pieces of concept art, to the first maps we built, to the first time I was able to run around as Tracer (who at that early point shot laser beams out of her eyes), this game has just clicked with me. I love its inspiring, hopeful, beautiful world worth fighting for. I love its characters—larger than life, colorful, powerful, and global. And most of all, I love the fast, fluid gameplay requiring teamwork, situational awareness, and quick decision making.
I also recognize that making games at Blizzard has always been a group effort and never about just one point of view. Together with the rest of the team I feel fortunate that we have a deep bench of development and creative leaders, numerous veteran Blizzard artists and designers, and some extremely talented new blood as well—along with tons of support throughout the company for the live game and for Overwatch 2.
Speaking of Overwatch 2, development is continuing at a good pace. We have an exceptional vision we’re executing on, the reaction from many of you to the updates we shared at BlizzConline thrilled us, and we have exciting reveals planned for this year and beyond as we ramp to launch. We’ll be sharing more frequent updates about Overwatch 2 progress and new features in the live game with you all very soon.
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.
We’re also tremendously grateful for Jeff’s contributions over the years. Please see a personal note from Jeff below:
i am leaving Blizzard Entertainment after 19 amazing years.
it was truly the honor of a lifetime to have the opportunity to create worlds and heroes for such a passionate audience. 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.
You’ll hear more from Aaron and the rest of the Overwatch team soon. In the meantime, please join us in thanking Jeff, and in welcoming Aaron into his new role.
In a somewhat surprising announcement, it seems David Kim has left Blizzard Entertainment earlier today, as spotted by WRHeronkill. After heading up the Diablo 4 systems team since 2017, Kim moved on to the Principal Game Designer role for World of Warcraft in the latter half of 2020, and has now announced he is leaving the company:
In the comments of the post we can see many employees saying goodbye and wishing Kim luck in his future endeavors.
It seems the WoW job either didn't quite work out or, more likely, was just temporary to help ship Shadowlands and get it through the launch period. Kim has been with Blizzard since 2007 and was one of the main architects behind StarCraft 2, in particular the balancing side of the game. After that he moved on to Heroes of the Storm for a while, went back to SC2, and then Diablo 4 where he spend 3 years. It seems he wasn't quite ready to work on Hearthstone and Overwatch, just to get his "worked on all major Blizzard franchises" ticket.
We wish him well in any future endeavors, and will be checking the roster over at Dreamhaven for any new additions periodically.
Blizzard Begins Monthly Collectible Series for 30th Anniversary with Lich King Statue & Concept Art PrintBy Staff
Blizzard celebrates its 30th anniversary this year and announced an all-new limited release series called "From the Vault." This month, you can pre-purchase a 26" high Lich King resin statue and a concept art print of Prince Arthas.
The Lich King resin statue costs a whopping $1,099.99 or 1,300 EUR, and you can purchase it here (US region) or here if you're in the EU. It will ship no later than November 19.
The concept art print of Prince Arthas drawn by Samwise Didier will only be available for purchase on the Blizzard Gear Store for 30 days. It costs $29.99 (US) or 32 EUR (EU). The concept art print will ship on or before May 7, 2021.
Each month, new collectibles will become available for purchase.
Omar Gonzalez, one of the "creators" of WoW Classic, has left Blizzard for Dreamhaven.
Omar Gonzalez was a WoW engineer responsible for the early advancements of WoW Classic. Omar locked himself away for a few weeks and created an early prototype of Classic, which had a ton of bugs, as mentioned by Ion Hazzikostas in the Wowhead interview, but the game was in a pre-Cataclysm state and had all the original skills and talents.
This made the team feel confident about re-creating the Classic experience.
According to the latest reports, Omar has now left Blizzard Entertainment and joined Secret Door, one of Dreamhaven's studios owned by Mike Morhaime.
Activision Blizzard apparently plans to lay off even more of its employees and consolidate its EU publishing offices to the UK.
Activision Blizzard's CEO Bobby Kotick is set to receive a $200-million bonus. On the other side of the spectrum, the company recently laid off approximately 190 employees who worked in the Esports / live departments due to the ongoing pandemic.
Further layoffs are imminent as the company plans on consolidating its European publishing functions to a main hub in the UK.
According to Games Industry, the layoffs will affect Activision Blizzard offices in Germany, France, Spain, the UK, and 2 offices in the Netherlands.
The cuts are said to be limited to publishing functions and won't impact development, live ops and customer support representatives.
Source: Games Industry