Somewhere in between the internet’s “playful” ribbing of Todd Howard and its unabashed love for Reggie Fils-Amie, there is Jeff Kaplan. This article is part of a series this week on the biggest figures in gaming and how the online community views them. Yesterday’s post was about Bethesda’s Todd Howard.
Jeff Kaplan is the game director for “Overwatch” the wildly popular hero shooter from Blizzard and much like Howard, he has become, for better or for worse, the public face of the game. Kaplan routinely appeared in developer update videos where he would explain any changes that were being implemented in the game or anything new they were working on. This level of transparency was originally endearing to fans, who are not really used to having game developers keep them in the loop.
As Overwatch’s popularity grew, so did Kaplan’s. As the face of the game fans gravitated towards Kaplan and his quiet demeanor and quirky personality. Soon, people began cutting up the videos of Kaplan talking to make memes with.
The community continued to admire Kaplan as he openly talked about Overwatch as a project of love, he combatted the toxicity in the game, he made jokes about the player-base and he talked about diversity in gaming.
Recently, however, the goodwill has run out for Kaplan. Overwatch has had issues balancing characters in recent months and the development team has been all but silent on the community’s concerns. When Kaplan finally broke the silence a couple weeks ago, fans were upset with what he said, and some thought he was blaming the players for the issues with the current game.
This has led to some looking towards Kaplan, as the man in charge, to make an effort to “fix” the game.
Both Kaplan’s and Overwatch’s popularity are trending downwards and it has yet to be seen whether or not they can get the community to come back on their side.