Blizzard says it plans to change the name of Overwatch’s gunslinger character following the explosive sexual harassment lawsuit brought against Activision Blizzard by the state of California. The character was originally named “McCree” after Jesse McCree, a former longtime Blizzard staffer who appears to be pictured in the so-called “Cosby Suite” reported on by Kotaku.
Blizzard hasn’t shared a new name for the character yet, and the studio will delay an in-game narrative arc where he played a “key part” due to the change. The company also committed to no longer naming in-game characters after real employees.
A message from the Overwatch team. pic.twitter.com/2W3AV7Pv6X
— Overwatch (@PlayOverwatch) August 26, 2021
Recently, some Overwatch League casters had chosen to not say the gunslinger character’s former name, instead calling him “the cowboy.”
The planned change follows promised updates to World of Warcraft to remove “references that are not appropriate for our world,” which may have referred to references of former World of Warcraft senior creative director Alex Afrasiabi in the game. Afrasiabi was singled out in the lawsuit for his problematic actions while at Blizzard. He was fired from Blizzard and appears to have worked for the company until June 2020.
The change also follows a recent decision by Blizzard not to create skins for Overwatch League MVPs after sexual assault allegations surfaced against former Overwatch pro and MVP Jay “Sinatraa” Won.
When Blizzard confirmed that Jesse McCree was no longer at the company this month, it said that longtime employees Luis Barriga and Jonathan LeCraft were gone, too. Blizzard’s former head of HR Jesse Meschuk and former president J. Allen Brack also left earlier in August.
This week, California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) accused Activision Blizzard of “withholding and suppressing evidence” needed for its investigation in an amended complaint. Employees walked out in protest of the company’s initial public response to the lawsuit in July.