In context: Over the summer, Blizzard announced it would be changing an Overwatch hero’s name and its policy on naming game characters in general. The decisions came after controversy surrounding parent company Activision Blizzard’s sexual harassment lawsuit.
On Friday, Blizzard revealed Overwatch character McCree will now be named Cole Cassidy. The name Cole Cassidy may refer to Butch Cassidy, the famous outlaw who, along with Harry “Sundance Kid” Longabaugh, robbed banks and trains in the United States and South America in the early 1900s. Their gang was known as the “Wild Bunch.”
The official Overwatch Twitter account included an explanation for the name change in the character’s in-game lore.
“Running from his past meant running from himself,” the biographical slide reads. “To make this new Overwatch better—to make things right—he had to be honest with his team and himself.”
The change goes into effect on October 26.
Meet Cole Cassidy.
Rides into Overwatch October 26. pic.twitter.com/CT6PmaNXNs
— Overwatch (@PlayOverwatch) October 22, 2021
The real reason for the new moniker is that Blizzard originally named the character after Diablo 4 Lead Level Designer Jesse McCree, one of the Blizzard employees mentioned in the infamous “Cosby Suite” controversy. Afterward, Overwatch streamers stopped using the character’s name, and in August, Blizzard revealed plans to change it. Blizzard also announced it would no longer name characters after employees.
The Cosby Suite controversy was part of the sexual harassment lawsuit Activision Blizzard was hit with over the summer. The company has been accused of fostering a “frat boy” environment that tolerated harassment and discrimination against female employees. Since then, Activision Blizzard has been under investigation by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and the Communication Workers of America (CWA).
Blizzard entered an $18 million settlement with the EEOC in an effort to clean up its image. However, the DFEH lawsuit has come under fire for a possible ethics violation. The complaint alleges that the lawyers who investigated Activision Blizzard for the DFEH had previously worked on the SEC’s case and used information from the latter investigation while conducting the former. If true, this would be a breach of professional ethics.
Since the lawsuit, at least 20 employees have left Blizzard. They include the company’s former president, its chief legal officer, and McCree himself.