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Jeff Kaplan: Blizzard cancelled more games than they made

Blizzard
Jeff Kaplan praying for a swift end
Jeff Kaplan praying for a swift end

Blizzard's Jeff Kaplan, a.k.a. Jeff from the Overwatch team, has given a lengthy interview on his time in the company, where he said how they cancel more games than not and even provided a comparison of how they treated workers at the time.

Before you think that this is about Kaplan going rogue over the recent layoffs - it's not, as the interview dates back to May 2017, almost two years back. We, however, found it quite the read, if only to compare the state of Activision Blizzard then and now.

Not many people realise that Kaplan was recruited right out of EverQuest by Rob Pardo, after which he was given lead on World of Warcraft along with Pat Nagle.

Interestingly, Kaplan claims they were seriously low on confidence at the time and had been hoping for a quarter of EverQuest's 400,000 subscribers, calling Alan Adham's belief and enthusiastic estimates of one million as "batshit crazy".

Kaplan's next job was on Titan, an MMO that was cancelled after 6 years of development. "I don't think most people realise this, but Blizzard has cancelled more games than we've made", he said, before adding that Activision Blizzard tried to salvage it on several occasions, but to no avail.

Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, Blizzard's former CEO Mike Morhaime and a few others knew that Titan is being cancelled, but Kaplan says they tried to protect employees by not telling them, while finding them different positions.

"We were trying to work on a contingency plan because we had a 140-person team. We wanted to be careful in that moment that we didn't devastate a lot of people, make people feel that they'd wasted their careers", Kaplan said.

Thankfully, all of the staff eventually found the next thing to do, with some ending up on the Overwatch team. In fact, Kaplan said that during the ptich to the big guys, Kotick's reaction was instrumental in buying them enough time to create a core combat demo.

AltCharJeff Kaplan praying for a swift endActivision Blizzard CEO, Bobby Kotick

Kaplan is, of course, still around and in charge of the Overwatch team, although not many actors from this story are. Well, at least we know there was a time when Activision Blizzard cared for their workers.

You can find the interview in its entirety here.