Overwatch Character’s Name Officially Changed After Controversy

In the wake of damning controversy, an Overwatch character's name has been changed to reflect Activision Blizzard's commitment to change.

By Dylan Balde | Published

This article is more than 2 years old


McCree reconnects with his sullied past and becomes Cole Cassidy once more, a recent Twitter update reveals. Blizzard Entertainment retcons cowboy sharpshooter Jesse McCree’s Overwatch backstory in a bid to distance the character from the disgraced Activision Blizzard developer he was named after. The real Jesse McCree was a proud member of the Cosby Suite, an all-men’s club of Blizzard employees with a habitude for groping, issuing demeaning remarks about female coworkers, and rampant sexual harassment, including corporate-level abuse of the opposite sex. Led by the equally tarred and feathered Alex Afrasiabi, the group originated the “frat boy” lifestyle Blizzard leadership was accused of helping fester. McCree was fired in August for his part in the Cosby Suite.

Jesse McCree the character is now Cole Cassidy, an agent of Overwatch. According to the new storyline, he was always Cole Cassidy; he abandoned his birth name in youth to pursue a life of crime and considered his origins an ineffectual handicap. He joined Blackwatch under the cover of Jesse McCree, committing various atrocities in a covert attempt to reestablish peace and order. But working with Gabriel Reyes, a man who would later defect to Talon, tarnished his legacy. He might no longer fight for all the wrong reasons, but he was still a wanted man with limited supervision and unlimited power. Determined to right his wrongs and divert his destiny, McCree finally sheds his mask and becomes Cole Cassidy once more. As Cassidy, McCree rejoins the good guys and becomes a hero of Overwatch. The changes are effective as of October 26. At long last, Jesse McCree — in all his manifestations — leaves the room. Check out Blizzard’s reintroduction of the Overwatch hero below:

The Overwatch team over at Blizzard Entertainment issued a statement in August explaining the then-imminent name change, and the brand-new character arc that followed. “We built the Overwatch universe around the idea that inclusivity, equity, and hope are the building blocks of a better future,” developers wrote. “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.”

As pivotal as his contributions were to Blizzard and Overwatch, Jesse McCree is everything that is wrong about gaming and the male-oriented culture that cultivated it. His legacy needed to be addressed, and promptly redressed, for changes to take place and improvements to prosper. And what better way to erase all traces of Jesse McCree than to reflect his life’s folly on Cole Cassidy’s life story?

Overwatch’s Cole Cassidy is a fugitive with an abominable past. He allied with Blackwatch in the hopes of clearing the red in his ledger, but only succeeded in amplifying his sins. He was an outlaw with undeserved power over others, and nothing could be worse. The real Jesse McCree is a bit like that. He was an integral cog in a system that allowed men to abuse, overrule, and lord over female employees; in fact, he spearheaded it. Along with Afrasiabi, Luis Barriga, and Jonathan LeCraft, he created a work environment so toxic, California’s Department of Employment and Fair Housing had to intercede. If McCree is in any way redeemable, he would have already rethought his actions and reconsidered how he was treating others and living his life, just like Cassidy. Cole Cassidy’s example proves everyone deserves a second chance, yet only time will tell if Jesse McCree has atoned enough to earn his shot.

Aside from rechristening Jesse McCree into Cole Cassidy, Blizzard is planning on launching a new story arc for the Texas-born marksman with his new identity front and center. The Overwatch DLC is still in development; in the meantime, devs released a new Free For All (FFA) map last month for Overwatch fans keenly waiting for updates. To avoid future controversies, Blizzard characters will no longer be named after real employees. Designers were also advised to limit real-world references in case of future disputes. The central goal of game creation is to separate reality from fiction, and allow a world to truly come into its own without any external intervention.

“We know that actions speak louder than words,” Blizzard added, “and we hope to show you our commitment to making Overwatch a better experience in-game and continue to make our team the best it can be.”

The Overwatch team isn’t the only part of Blizzard currently undergoing changes. The company is restructuring its human relations sector to adapt to gender sensitivity issues, resulting in more firings, training, and disciplinary action. Blizzard’s aggrieved female employees are actively leading the overhaul.