You may have noticed in the Blizzcon 2019 opening ceremony that Jeff Kaplan was not too enthused about basically his entire pitch leaking online ahead of time.
This isn’t Kaplan’s first major leak, but the veteran developer was nonetheless heartbroken to see so much of his team’s work out in the wild before they got the chance to reveal it properly to the world.
“Leaks are very interesting in that they have more of a moral impact on the team than anything else. It’s extremely demoralising. You feel totally deflated,” Kaplan told Kotaku Australia at Blizzcon.
“When you’re trying so hard to deliver something for somebody and to have it be spoiled in a way that’s not coherent, that’s the part that bothers us the most, where people are not given all the information and all of the context that they need to understand what we’re doing.”
Kaplan added that when people online make comments about game art based on leaks, such as judging the game’s visuals through low-quality screenshots, the artists who created that work feel demoralised, too.
“They take such care to make the art look beautiful, and then we get some crappy version of what the art looks like … and then people are like, ‘I don’t know it doesn’t look that good’ and we’re like, no it does, it looks amazing! It’s just a crappy screenshot that someone took, so it can be a bit demoralising,” he said.
Kaplan, of course, was on the World of Warcraft team when The Burning Crusade expansion leaked the week of Blizzcon, so he knew how to deal with a leak of that magnitude. Ultimately, he’s confident all anyone will remember about Overwatch 2 will be what the game brought to the table and not the leaks.
“If you fast-forward to 2019, everybody looks back at Burning Crusade as one of WoW’s strongest moments, their favourite expansions, and nobody remembers that Burning Crusade was leaked at all,” he revealed.
Overwatch 2 does not yet have a release date, but Blizzard says it’s at least a year out.