A.I

Blizzard will rename Overwatch’s Jesse McCree

Blizzard Entertainment says it will rename McCree, Overwatch’s outlaw bounty hunter, after his real-life namesake, former game designer Jesse McCree, was let go from the studio in the wake of a sexual harassment and gender discrimination lawsuit filed against publisher Activision Blizzard.

In a statement posted to Twitter, Blizzard’s Overwatch team confirmed the name change, saying, “We believe it’s necessary to change the name of the hero currently known as McCree to something that better represents what Overwatch stands for.”

“We realize that any change to such a well-loved and central hero in the game’s fiction will take time to roll out correctly, and we’ll share updates as this work progresses,” Blizzard said. “In the near term, we had planned to kick off a narrative arc in September supported with new story and game content, of which McCree was a key part. Since we want to integrate this change into that story arc, we will be delaying the new arc until later this year and instead launch a new FFA map this September. Going forward, in-game characters will no longer be name after real employees and we will be more thoughtful and discerning about adding real world references in future Overwatch content.”

The real-life Jesse McCree was a longtime Blizzard Entertainment employee who worked on the developer’s World of Warcraft expansions, Diablo 3, and the upcoming Diablo 4. He left the company in August, two weeks after a report was published that featured McCree taking part in a Blizzard gathering at the BlizzCon “Cosby Suite,” with former World of Warcraft creative director Alex Afrasiabi. In the lawsuit filed by California regulators in July, Afrasiabi was alleged to have “engage[d] in blatant sexual harassment with little to no repercussions” while at Blizzard.

Blizzard confirmed McCree’s departure on Aug. 11, alongside the departure of two other developers. Afrasiabi himself left Blizzard Entertainment in 2020, ahead of the lawsuit. Like McCree, his name also appeared in a Blizzard game: World of Warcraft. Blizzard removed references to Afrasiabi from World of Warcraft shortly after the lawsuit was made public.

“We also want to take immediate action in Azeroth to remove references that are not appropriate for our world. This work has been underway, and you will be seeing several such changes to both Shadowlands and WoW Classic in the coming days.”

Activision Blizzard was sued by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) in July for creating a “frat boy culture” that allowed gender-based discrimination and sexual harassment to proliferate. Several top executives, including former Blizzard president J. Allen Brack, have been described by the lawsuit as knowing about and enabling the alleged behavior. The DFEH said it conducted a two-year investigation into Activision Blizzard before filing the suit.

You can read more about the allegations against Activision Blizzard in Polygon’s explainer.



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