Bizzard Vice President Jeff Kaplan recently addressed the fears and trepidation he and the Overwatch development team sometimes feel when communicating with fans, saying it can be "downright scary and intimidating. "
Kaplan, posting in a response on the Blizzard forums to a thread about Bizzard's slow response to player feedback and lack of posts from developers, first addressed the development team's love for working on and playing Overwatch, stressing it tried to build a team that didn't feel like "cogs in a large machine."
"There is not one person – or select people – who dictates what we do. We're not peons of some visionary – just implementing his or her vision – and we're certainly not beholden to any corporate 'overlords' telling us what we can or cannot do. We are 100+ game developers who absolutely love playing and making Overwatch," Kaplan wrote. "While most players have a few 'causes' that they focus on, we – the team – care about *literally* every experience that has anything to do with OW."
Part of this dedication, he continues, results in wanting to interact with the game's community, posting, like he's done here, to the game's open forums. This, Kaplan adds, is not a "normal or core part" of a developer's job; this is something developers want to do in an effort to be open with players, using their real names and letting them know Blizzard is listening. This, however, comes at the cost of interacting firsthand with the toxicity that exists in the Overwatch community.
"Most great developers I know just love being head's down making or playing games. The 'public speaking/posting' part of the job is downright scary and intimidating. It often feels like there is no winning," Kaplan said. " If we post, 'we're talking about Mercy' immediately there is an expectation that she is going to be radically changed in the next patch when the truth is, we might just leave her how she is for a while. We're not allowed to post that here without our bosses (and I am talking literally here) receiving emails from some of you demanding we be fired. It's not exactly what I would call a safe environment for creative people to openly express their thoughts and feelings."
Despite the hard stance he takes here, Kaplan follows this up by stressing the Overwatch team wants to remain part of the game's community; it still wants to interact with and receive constructive criticism from those playing the game. No stranger to addressing the game's abuse in the past, with his statement Kaplan seems to ask for more responsibility with the tone some users take when addressing developers – a group that lacks the anonymity other forum users have, but also shares a similar passion for Overwatch.