“It was truly the honour of a lifetime.”
Kaplan began his tenure at Blizzard in 2002, quickly joining the World of Warcraft team as a designer, and eventually becoming game director on the MMO. He left World of Warcraft in 2009 to work on Blizzard’s ill-fated Titan project, which was cancelled after a lengthy development, but went on to serve as lead director on wildly successful hero shooter Overwatch – and has very much been the public face of the game since its launch in 2016.
In a message announcing his departure, Kaplan wrote, “I am leaving Blizzard Entertainment after 19 amazing years. It was truly the honour 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,” he continued, “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.”
In an update on the official Overwatch website, Blizzard added that Aaron Keller, a long-serving member of the company and a founding member of the Overwatch team, will be stepping in as game director following Kaplan’s departure.
“Jeff’s been a great leader, mentor, and friend, and he knows how much we’re going to miss him,” Keller wrote. “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 honoured to carry the torch forward.”
Kaplan leaves Blizzard with work on Overwatch 2 well underway. Keller notes that development is “continuing at a good pace” and that the team will be “sharing more frequent updates about Overwatch 2 progress and new features in the live game with you all very soon.”