Blizzard Will Be Changing McCree’s Name in Overwatch and Says It’ll No Longer Name Characters After Real Life Employees
Similar changes will be coming to World of Warcraft as well
Yesterday, Blizzard released a statement via the Overwatch Twitter account that they would be changing McCree’s name. McCree was named after Jesse McCree, one of their former employees who is no longer with the company in light of the sexual harassment lawsuit filed against Activision Blizzard on July 22nd.
A message from the Overwatch team. pic.twitter.com/2W3AV7Pv6X
— Overwatch (@PlayOverwatch) August 26, 2021
The full statement is as follows:
We built the Overwatch universe around the idea that inclusivity, equality, and hope are the building blocks of a better future. They are central to the game and to the Overwatch Team.
As we continue to discuss how we best live up to our values and to demonstrate our commitment to creating a game world that reflects them, 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. 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 named after real employees and we will be more thoughtful and discerning about adding real world references in future Overwatch content.
This will help reinforce that we’re building a fictional universe that is unmistakably different from the real world and better illustrates that the creation of Overwatch is truly a team effort. Work on these updates is underway and they are just a part of our ongoing commitment to honest reflection and making whatever changes are necessary to build a future worth fighting for. We know that actions speak louder than words, and we hope to show you our commitment to making Overwatch a better experience in-game and continue to make our team the best it can be.
McCree had been with the company since 2005 and was one of the employees seen in a viral photo of the “Cosby Suite” – which Kotaku revealed about a week after the lawsuit was filed.
As to be expected, fans called for the Overwatch character to no longer be associated with his namesake. Now, about a month later, Blizzard is changing the name, delaying the next Overwatch story arc (since it was heavily focused on McCree), and according to The Washington Post, will be doing the same with World of Warcraft, which also has references to McCree and other employees who are no longer with the company due to the lawsuit.
Currently, another popular Blizzard game, World of Warcraft, still contains references to Jesse McCree in the form of five character names and one city name. However, multiple current employees who wished to remain anonymous out of fear of reprisal said Thursday that nods to the longtime level designer will be removed from the game soon as well. In addition, references to two other former Blizzard developers, Diablo 4 director Luis Barriga and World of Warcraft designer Jonathan LeCraft, will also be removed. A Blizzard spokesperson confirmed these changes.
“We can confirm that those references in World of Warcraft will be removed,” the spokesperson said.
Both Luis Barriga and Jonathan LeCraft departed from the company at the same time as McCree. According to Kotaku, LeCraft had also been pictured in the “Cosby Suite.”
When asked by Kotaku about Barriga and LeCraft’s name removal, Blizzard responded with, “We will be reviewing the real-world references currently used in our games and making decisions based on how they best represent core values for our games.”
In regards to the Overwatch name change, The Washington Post says that “Blizzard is not ready to announce the character’s new name, but plans to incorporate the change into a narrative arc originally intended to appear in the game in September.”
There’s no word on when the new arc will be released at this time.
I can’t help but wonder how many more characters and locations in Activision Blizzard titles are going to have to be reviewed after all this. It’s pretty unsettling to think about, if I’m being honest, especially since the company has decided to never name in-game characters after their employees again. But the thing that will always be uncomfortable is the fact that this has been an issue that women have spoken about in the gaming industry for a while now. All we can do is hope that this is a case where their voices are actually heard and necessary changes that the company actually sticks to are made.
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