Activision Blizzard will rename Overwatch character Jesse McCree in a future update.
The announcement came via a social media post on official Overwatch channels.
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,” reads the post.
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Long-time Blizzard designer Jesse McCree was the character’s namesake. McCree was most recently working as the lead game designer on Diablo IV. Calls for Blizzard to rename the character began to grow following a Kotaku report that surfaced Facebook images of McCree with other Blizzard staff in 2013, standing before a large portrait of Bill Cosby at a BlizzCon hotel room referred to as the “Cosby Suite.”
Those images contained a text thread in which World of Warcraft designer Alex Afrasiabi wrote about marrying women brought to the room. “You misspelled fuck,” wrote McCree. A recent California lawsuit accused Activision Blizzard of fostering a culture of sexual harassment. Afrasiabi was named in the lawsuit after his 2020 termination for “misconduct.” References to Afrasiabi will be removed from World of Warcraft.
Activision Blizzard confirmed that, as of two weeks ago, McCree is no longer employed at Blizzard. He was terminated with Diablo IV game director Luis Barriga and World of Warcraft designer Jonathan LeCraft. References to Barriga and LeCraft in other games are also being removed.
Prior to this morning’s announcement, many in the Overwatch community had chosen to stop referring to the McCree character by name. Overwatch League shout casters Brennon ‘Bren’ Hook and Josh ‘Sideshow’ Wilkinson no longer use the name during live broadcasts. Both stated the decision to stop naming the character was a personal choice.
The character’s new name will be revealed in a forthcoming lore update. The character was to be featured prominently in the game’s next major story update, but that content has now been delayed until later this year to address the current situation. A free-for-all map will be released in the meantime to patch the hole in the content calendar.