Overwatch is changing the name of the cowboy gunslinger McCree in a future update after Jesse McCree, the character’s namesake, was let go from the company in the aftermath of the Activision Blizzard workplace lawsuit.
The Overwatch team posted a statement on Twitter confirming the news, saying “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.”
Jesse McCree (the real one) was a Blizzard lead level designer and is no longer with the company in the wake of more allegations stemming from the workplace lawsuit. He was one of a few high-level employees let go in recent weeks, which also included Diablo 4 game director Luis Barriga and World of Warcraft designer Jonathan LeCraft. McCree specifically was seen in screenshots from the “Cosby Suite,” which was named in the lawsuit, along with text message exchanges from the time.
After the news broke, many wondered if Overwatch would change the character McCree’s name. Former senior creative director Alex Afrasiabi was named in the lawsuit as being at the head of the Cosby Suite and harassing female employees, and was quietly removed from the company in 2020. In response to the lawsuit, it looked like the World of Warcraft team removed references to him from the game, which included Fras Siabi’s Axe and the renaming of Field Marshal Afrasiabi in Stormwind to Field Marshal Stonebridge.
Of course, enacting such a change isn’t easy when there are a lot of story elements, voice acting, and gameplay involved. The Overwatch team provided detail in its statement regarding how they’re going to make the change. An upcoming story arc set for September that heavily featured will be pushed back so that the team can introduce the name change narratively. In its place, players will receive a new FFA map.
The statement also notes that the team will no longer be naming in-game characters after real people.
Activision Blizzard is still in the middle of the lawsuit, filed by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), which alleged that the company fostered a “frat boy culture” that led to gender discrimination and sexual harassment. The most recent news involves the company allegedly not cooperating with the DFEH and impeding the investigation, including shredding documents and hiding behind WilmerHale, the law firm hired to conduct a third-party audit.