In context: Companies naming video game characters after their employees isn’t unusual, but what happens when the people in question fall from grace? It’s a situation Blizzard is facing with Overwatch gunslinger McCree, named after Jesse McCree, one of several staff members dismissed amid the sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit brought against the firm. Now, Blizzard has announced it is renaming the character and will no longer use staff names in its games.
Blizzard helped immortalize Diablo 4 lead level designer Jesse McCree by naming the popular Overwatch character after him, a decision it came to regret after Kotaku revealed his involvement in the “Cosby Suite” group chats. It led to some Overwatch League casters refusing to use the name, referring to him instead as “the cowboy” during matches. There have also been calls from fans and players to rename the character.
Blizzard has acknowledged the problem and will be renaming McCree. “We built the Overwatch universe around the idea that inclusivity, equity, and hope are the building blocks of a better future,” the company said in a statement. “They are central to the game and to the Overwatch team.”
A message from the Overwatch team. pic.twitter.com/2W3AV7Pv6X
— Overwatch (@PlayOverwatch) August 26, 2021
“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.”
Blizzard didn’t reveal the new name, but we know it won’t be taken from another member of staff. The firm also said, “in-game characters will no longer be named after real employees and we will be more thoughtful and discerning about adding real world references in future Overwatch content.”
There are several instances of McCree’s name in World of Warcraft, including Scarlet Lord Jesseriah McCree, Jessup McCree, and Marshal McCree. Expect them to be removed as well. Blizzard previously replaced WoW references to Alex Afrasiabi, who was also part of the “BlizzCon Cosby Crew.”
Blizzard recently promised not to create any more skins based on Overwatch League MVPs following sexual assault allegations against pro player Jay “Sinatraa” Won.
Earlier this month, it was reported that Jessie McCree, along with Diablo IV director Luis Barriga and World of Warcraft designer Jonathan LeCraft, had been dismissed from Blizzard. The lawsuit has also seen former company president J. Allen Brack and former head of HR Jesse Meschuk step down.
This week saw California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) accuse Activision Blizzard of “withholding and suppressing evidence” and shredding vital documents related to the lawsuit.