Jeff Kaplan Leaves Blizzard Entertainment

Jeff Kaplan, the game director of Overwatch, has parted ways with Blizzard Entertainment after 19 years with the company. Kaplan started out as a game designer on World of Warcraft in 2002, developing quests for the iconic MMORPG. He was credited as a game director for World of Warcraft before leading Project Titan from 2009 to 2014. Elements of Project Titan eventually made their way into Overwatch, where Kaplan served as game director until today.

Kaplan oversaw the iconic game’s development, which won numerous Game of the Year awards and resurrected the team-based shooter genre. Overwatch‘s popularity also spawned an esports league called the Overwatch League, which is currently in its fourth season. He announced his departure in a letter on Blizzard’s website. You can read the full text of the letter below.

Greetings, Overwatch Community,

I am leaving Blizzard Entertainment after 19 amazing years.

It was truly the honor 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. 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.

GG,
Jeffrey Kaplan

Development on Overwatch and Overwatch 2 will continue with assistant game developer Aaron Keller as the new game director. “Jeff’s been a great leader, mentor, and friend, and he knows how much we’re going to miss him,” Keller wrote in a letter to the community. “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 honored to carry the torch forward.”

World of Warcraft News: Patch 9.1, Burning Crusade Classic leaked

Ahead of this weekend’s virtual BlizzCon event, a Blizzard employee mistakenly posted PR information about World of Warcraft that discussed both Patch 9.1 and The Burning Crusade Classic. The leak was immediately posted to the MMOChampion forums. BlizzCon is being held virtually from February 19-20, 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and is free of charge.

Patch 9.1

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While not much about Patch 9.1 has been set in stone yet, there will be a new 10-boss raid, the Sanctum of Domination, as well as a new eight-boss mega-dungeon, Tazavesh, the Veiled Market. In addition, there will also be a new zone, Korthia, the City of Secrets. The new PvP season will be released with 9.1 in addition to the next Mythic+ season.

There will also be additions to the covenants, such as upgrades to soulbinds and (possibly) new conduits. You can also fly in the Shadowlands in 9.1, although it is not clear what achievements will be needed to unlock flying. Flying will be similar to Legion with players only being able to fly in the four original Shadowlands zones of Revendreth, Maldraxxus, Bastion, and Ardenweald.

It is not yet known when 9.1 will release, but several reports have speculated a late May to early June release due to the amount of content involved.

The Burning Crusade Classic

While this was a matter of when and not if, The Burning Crusade Classic was also leaked. While all features of The Burning Crusade return (along with being free to play for World of Warcraft subscribers), there is also an option to advance characters straight to The Burning Crusade or opt to remain in WoW Classic. This is an interesting addition and may spark some debates in the community.

We’re looking forward to more information during BlizzCon Online this weekend. Stay tuned for more news about Blizzard games in the upcoming days!

Reckful, former top-ranked World of Warcraft PvPer, commits suicide at age 31

Reckful once held the highest PvP ranking in the game’s history.

Byron “Reckful” Bernstein was once a fixture in the World of Warcraft arena scene for many years, playing a rogue. He was in the middle of developing his own video game before he sadly took his own life at the age of 31. His roommate and ex-girlfriend confirmed his death via Twitter. Many others in the gaming world paid tribute to Reckful, who once held the highest PvP ranking in World of Warcraft history.

What made Reckful even more prominent was his openness with his struggle with mental health issues. Typically, mental health issues are still a taboo subject even in the gaming world, where a higher percentage of individuals may suffer from mental health issues than the general population. He even talked with a psychiatrist on his stream to encourage other viewers who were also undergoing depression and other mental health issues to seek help. Sadly, some people took advantage of Reckful’s vulnerable state. Some viewers even openly encouraged him to commit suicide despite their knowledge of his mental health issues.

Hours ago, Reckful made a series of tweets proposing to his ex-girlfriend and even apologized to people who had to deal with his struggles with mental health. These were the last tweets he would make before taking his own life.

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Reckful was developing a game called Everland at the time of his death. He will be missed by everyone in the World of Warcraft community and the gaming world. We would like to use this time to remind everyone to be kind to one another and check in on all your friends during this difficult time, especially those who are struggling with mental health issues.

If you are struggling and want to reach out, here are some global resources for you to use.