Fans on Reddit have noticed that a reference to former Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan has been removed from the upcoming sequel’s New York City map. Players spotted that the Sept. 25 Bastion Rework announcement video for Overwatch 2 shows the pizza shop formerly called Jeph’s Corner Pizza is just Corner Pizza.
Fans can see the change for themselves around the 1-minute mark in Bastion’s announcement video, which shows the hero’s new ultimate and the pizza shop in the background. The nod to Kaplan doesn’t seem to be on the shop’s sign, however.
The measure is likely a part of Blizzard Entertainment’s push to remove in-game references to its employees in the wake of the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing’s lawsuit against Activision Blizzard.
Since the lawsuit’s filing, the company revealed it would rename Overwatch‘s McCree, named after a Diablo 4 lead game designer. A statement from the World of Warcraft team said the staff would “remove references that are not appropriate” for Azeroth—presumably referring to easter eggs involving Alex Afrasiabi, a former senior creative director for the game who was directly named in the lawsuit.
In April, Blizzard announced that Kaplan was leaving the company. He was replaced by Aaron Keller, a prominent member of the Overwatch team who helped design the beloved King’s Row map. Kaplan’s departure came before the wave of lawsuits filed against Activision Blizzard.
In the official news release, Blizzard said Kaplan “has decided to leave the company after a long and storied career.” At the bottom of the release, Blizzard included a “personal note” from Kaplan, where he says, “It was truly the honor of a lifetime.” Kaplan’s reason for leaving Blizzard remains unclear.
Now, as Blizzard continues to grapple with multiple lawsuits, the company has begun to erase numerous employee-related Easter eggs and references that appear in Blizzard games. The removal of “Jeph” comes as Blizzard makes changes to company policy.
In August, a Blizzard rep told Kotaku that “[Blizzard] will be reviewing the real-world references currently used in our games and making decisions based on how they best represent core values for our games.” That month, the company announced it would change McCree’s name.
Jeph’s Corner Pizza wasn’t the only reference to Kaplan, however. Reddit users also spotted a coffee cup saying “Jeph” in Overwatch 2, a nod to a picture in which Kaplan holds a cup of coffee with a misspelled version of his name. The cup stands on a copy of a book called “The Green Hills of Stranglethorn,” a quest from World of Warcraft also designed by Kaplan, as spotted by a user. It’s unclear if that reference will also remain in the sequel.