Overwatch fan favorite cowboy character Jesse McCree will be renamed, Blizzard announced, following Jesse McCree’s departure from the developer’s real life. The Blizzard veteran of the same name left earlier this month after a California lawsuit alleging sexual harassment and a “fraternity boy” culture at the company, though no specific reason was given for his departure.
The real-life McCree was one of several men apparently portrayed posing together on a bed with a photo of American comedian Bill Cosby. The disturbing image supposedly showed the interior of the “Cosby suite” — a hotel room that was once used at BlizzCon for parties.
McCree was also one of the developers whose name appeared in purported screenshots showing text conversations among the Blizzard team about the “Cosby suite,” which included suggestions from former World of Warcraft designer Alex Afrasiabi about women brought back into the room .
Afrasiabi was kicked out of Blizzard last year after an internal investigation into his behavior. Earlier this month, Blizzard admitted his departure was due to “misconduct in treating other employees” and said a World of Warcraft character based on him would be removed from the game, along with accompanying content.
A message from the Overwatch team was posted on the game’s official Twitter last night, and included confirmation that it was changing its policies so that no characters in the game were named employees.
In addition, Blizzard said today that references to other former Blizzard employees involved in the alleged “Cosby suite” image would also be deleted from their games. These include greetings to former Diablo 4 game director Luis Barriga and former World of Warcraft designer Jonathan LeCraft.
“We built the Overwatch universe around the idea that inclusion, equity and hope are the building blocks of a better future. They are essential for the game and for the Overwatch team.
As we continue to discuss how best to live up to our values and demonstrate our commitment to creating a game world that reflects them, we believe it is necessary to change the name of the hero currently known as McCree to something that better represents what Overwatch supports.
We realize that any change to a hero so beloved and central to the game’s fiction will take time to be implemented correctly and we’ll share updates as work progresses. In the short term, we had planned to release a narrative arc in September with support for new story and game content, of which McCree was an important part. Because we want to integrate this change into this story arc, we’ll defer the new arc until the end of this year and instead release a new FFA map in September. Going forward, game characters will no longer have real employee names and we will be more careful and judicious 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 creating Overwatch is really a team effort. Work on these updates is ongoing and they are just one part of our ongoing commitment to honest reflection and making all the changes necessary to build a future worth striving for. We know actions speak louder than words and we hope to show you our commitment to making Overwatch a better gaming experience and continuing to make our team the best it can be.”