Jeff Kaplan Pens Farewell to Reddit Overwatch Communities

Jeff Kaplan bid a final farewell to the Reddit Overwatch communities Thursday.
Jeff Kaplan bid a final farewell to the Reddit Overwatch communities Thursday. / Photo by Robert Paul/Blizzard

Jeff Kaplan wrote a heartfelt farewell to the Overwatch and Competitive Overwatch Reddit communities Thursday after leaving his role as game director for Overwatch and Overwatch 2.

The post, titled "thank you r/overwatch and r/cow," saw Kaplan thanking both communities for loving the game he helped to make in their own ways.

"i just wanted to sign off one last time and thank you all for your inspiration, shared stories and highlights, feedback, criticism and comradery," Kaplan wrote.

"Whenever i think about the reddit communities, i always think of r/Overwatch as "timmy" (aka punch kid): bright-eyed, optimistic and r/Competitiveoverwatch as "brian" the slightly jaded older brother who realizes in the end that he actually loves overwatch but just kind of forgets it along the way sometimes...

"Either way, you're amazing and you made my career better. you made me a better designer and game director. please take care of the overwatch team. they are wonderful, caring, brilliant people and they need you right now."

Kaplan served as game director for the entirety of Overwatch's existence, and had taken on the same role for Overwatch 2. He will be replaced in that role by Aaron Keller.

Kaplan joined Blizzard as a World of Warcraft level designer 2002 and worked his way up to becoming one of three game directors for the juggernaut. From there, he moved to Titan, the game that would eventually become Overwatch.

Why Did Jeff Kaplan Retire?

Kaplan didn't share any new information explaining why he decided to leave not just Overwatch, but Blizzard as a whole, after nearly two decades with the company. Kaplan's kept that info close to the vest, but a larger exodus of high-profile Blizzard employees provides a potentially meaningful context for his departure.

It's long been rumored that Activision's takeover of Blizzard in 2008 began a slow culture and business change that chafed many of the developers at Blizzard. Activision's penchant for cost-cutting and increased quantity of production was frequently reported to displease Blizzard veterans. That displeasure seemed to peak when Blizzard co-founder and onetime CEO Mike Morhaime left the company in 2018, then went on to found Dreamhaven, a new company full of other Blizzard exiles.

It's possible Kaplan left because of Activision's influence, or because he wanted to work with his old friends at a more human-scale company — he has yet to announce where he'll work next. But without word from Kaplan, it's hard to say exactly why he left the Overwatch team.