The Overwatch Team has issued a statement to explain that the in-game hero McCree will soon be renamed. The decision comes after the character’s namesake, Jesse McCree, left Blizzard after photographs emerged implicating him in the ongoing DFEH investigation and lawsuit.
A message from the Overwatch team. pic.twitter.com/2W3AV7Pv6X
— Overwatch (@PlayOverwatch) August 26, 2021
The statement reads:
“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.”
The change will not happen overnight, and the studio is working to make the change fit with the overarching narrative and game world – this is a creative problem rather different to a voice actor needing to be replaced. To that end, the upcoming narrative arc that was planned for September (of which McCree was a big part) has been delayed so that McCree’s name change can be incorporated.
That narrative will now come later in the year and a new FFA map will instead launch.
Additionally, Blizzard will no longer name characters after staff members, so that the works can stand better on their own and not risk being sullied by the disreputable actions of former employees.
Up until recently, Jesse McCree was a Diablo IV designer, but departed the company after photos emerged of him in the “Cosby Suite” at BlizzCon 2013, a bizarre hotel room shrine to Bill Cosby that was mentioned in the lawsuit and then publicly revealed and reported on by Kotaku.
Kotaku’s reporting also implicated McCree in some of the seedy text messages that went back and forth between staff at the event, the room being that of former World of Warcraft designer Alex Afrasiabi, who was specifically named in the lawsuit and had been fired for misconduct by Blizzard in 2020.
The Overwatch Team’s decision is a sensible one to make, and could indicate that some positive changes are taking place within the company. Employees and management have had rather different reactions to the DFEH investigation, with the formation of the ABK Workers Alliance to represent workers from across Activision Blizzard and the one day walk out by employees to protest work culture and a lack of meaningful change. By contrast, executives have often sounded dismissive of the allegations, and DFEH has now amended its lawsuit to include temporary staff and claim that Activision Blizzard is imposing NDAs on its employees and destroying paperwork that could relate to HR.