I was really sad this week to read about Jeffrey Kaplan leaving Blizzard after 19 years. That’s a heck of a long time. Think about all he’s done there: directed World of Warcraft, directed Titan, which yes, never came out, but it was recycled into Overwatch and that turned out OK didn’t it? Kaplan is a golden goose if you ask me. But it’s not so much what he did but how he did it I admire.
Jeffrey Kaplan brought humbleness and approachability to Blizzard. So much so I find it weird even writing his name that way. Because he’s not Jeffrey Kaplan is he? He’s Jeff from the Overwatch team, and he always will be. It was the humble identifier he used every time a development diary video began, as if he had to explain to us who he was: he, the face of one of the world’s most popular games. And as big as the game got, it continued. It was like he almost didn’t believe he was famous.
And nestled within that was an openness and a willingness to communicate with a community. To really invite them into the game’s development and level with them about what was going on, no PRs in sight. In fact, I once talked to a Blizzard PR about Jeff from the Overwatch team, and the videos he recorded, and whether they took longer than it appeared they did. And the PR said no, he just sits down, they point a camera at him, and away he goes.