Over the course of the last month of the Activision-Blizzard sexual harassment and discrimination scandal, players have wondered aloud whether Blizzard would do anything to address the fact that one of Overwatch’s characters, McCree, was named after a now-former employee tangled up in the accusations. Jesse McCree was one of three prominent developers ousted from the company earlier this month as part of Activision’s purge of Blizzard middle-managers it’s holding responsible for having failed to uphold the company’s policies. According to a message to players today, Blizzard has now made the determination that McCree needs a rename, and it will necessitate a delay of content for the game as well.
“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 studio says.
“We realize that any change to such a well-loved and central hero in the game’s fiction will take time to roll out correctly, and we’ll share updates as this work progresses. In the near term, we had planned to kick off a narrative arc in September supported with new story and game content, of which McCree was a key part. Since we want to integrate this change into that story arc, we will be delaying the new arc until later this year and instead launch a new FFA map this September.”
This is not an insignificant undertaking, as it’ll require edits and possibly rerecords of hundreds of lines of dialogue from other characters. Blizzard does say that in the future, it won’t name characters after real people – a wise rule every studio probably ought to follow.
The new FFA map referred to in the announcement, Malevento, hit the PTR today, with a planned release date of September 28th.
Worth noting here is the sharp difference in how the Overwatch team at Blizzard is handling the situation compared to Activision-Blizzard HQ, which this week stands accused by state investigators of literally shredding evidence pertinent to the lawsuit.
A message from the Overwatch team. pic.twitter.com/2W3AV7Pv6X
— Overwatch (@PlayOverwatch) August 26, 2021
In other Overwatch news, the Overwatch League esports organizers announced last night that it will “pivot from live events centered around Dallas and Los Angeles and will instead return to Hawaii for postseason competition.”