Blizzard Entertainment confirmed Kaplan's departure via the official Overwatch website. In the same announcement, Blizzard also named Kaplan's successor, Aaron Keller, who served as the Overwatch Assistant Game Director.
Jeff Kaplan worked for Blizzard Entertainment from 2002 up until 2021.
Jeff Kaplan Leaves Blizzard Entertainment
Help us thank Jeff Kaplan for being the Mercy to our Genji. Thank you for always daring to see the world as it could be.
Also, help us welcome Aaron Keller as Overwatch's new Game Director. We can't wait to continue fighting for the future with you.
— Overwatch (@PlayOverwatch) April 20, 2021
Jeff Kaplan's contributions to Blizzard Entertainment cannot be understated. However, perhaps the most notable of all is how he served as the face of Overwatch. He often appeared in most developer update videos for Blizzard's hit squad-based shooter, whether online or at any event related to Blizzard or Overwatch.
Before his position as the Game Director for Overwatch, Kaplan worked as a Designer for Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos and World of Warcraft. Kaplan also had a hand in two of World of Warcraft's most iconic expansions, The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King.
Kaplan did not specify his reasons for leaving Blizzard Entertainment in his statement nor did Blizzard talk about it. However, Kaplan had nothing but good things to say after spending "19 amazing years" with Blizzard Entertainment. He referred to his opportunity as an "honor of a lifetime". He then expressed his gratitude to the "wonderful game developers that shared in the journey of creation" with him.
In his own statement, Kaplan's successor, Keller, addressed Kaplan's departure. Specifically, he talks about how it comes just right as Overwatch 2 is still being developed. Keller assures fans that the sequel's development is "continuing at a good pace" and promised to keep fans in the loop soon.
Blizzard recently showed off new gameplay footage and other details for Overwatch 2 at BlizzConline last February. However, while development seems to be going at a nice pace, fans shouldn't expect Overwatch 2 to release soon. Activision Blizzard has already confirmed earlier this year that Overwatch 2 is not expected to ship in 2021.
With Kaplan leaving such big holes to fill, it's only fair that fans question what happens now that Overwatch's Game Director is gone. In particular, many are wondering what will come of Jeff Kaplan's earlier teases of upcoming reveals. There was speculation that Kaplan was hinting at new changes coming to Overwatch. Unfortunately, now that Kaplan's gone, the plans may have changed with Keller now taking over.
Speaking of Kaplan, where the former Blizzard Entertainment Vice President is headed is also just as big of a deal.
With a resume like his, there's no doubt that he won't have any trouble finding a job in the video game industry. Not to mention, attaching his name alone in any upcoming project will surely attract a lot of attention.
Here's to hoping that wherever Kaplan heads next, the 49-year-old will give gamers yet another memorable title.