Blizzard have announced that Overwatch's McCree will be known as Cole Cassidy going forward. They're renaming the cowboy to distance him from his real-life namesake, former Blizzard employee Jesse McCree. He left the developer due to unknown reasons in August, but his departure came after the State of California filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard, alleging the company fostered a "frat boy" culture of sexual harassment and discrimination. The name change will take effect in-game tomorrow.
Overwatch tweeted the news on Friday, with a little blurb giving a story suggestion for the change:
"The first thing a renegade loses is their name, and this one gave up his long ago.
"Running from his past meant running from himself, and each passing year only widened the divide between who he had been and what he had become. But in every cowboy's life, there comes a time when he has to stop and make a stand.
"To make this new Overwatch better - to make things right - he had to be honest with his team and himself. The cowboy he was rode into the sunset, and Cole Cassidy faced the world at dawn."
Blizzard previously said that this would be folded into a narrative arc that we'll see at some point this year. From this little paragraph, it sounds like they're treating "McCree" as an outlaw name the cowboy is ditching.
Jesse McCree (the developer) left Blizzard alongside Diablo 4's director Luis Barriga, and World Of Warcraft designer Jonathan LeCraft back in August. Blizzard didn't explain the exact reasons for the departures. However, Kotaku reported that McCree had been involved in something called the "Cosby Suite" during BlizzCon in 2013.
"Going forward, in-game characters will no longer be named after real employees and we will be more thoughtful and discerning about adding real world references in future Overwatch content," the developers said in August. They plan on removing references to other Blizzard employees from their games too.
While renaming these characters is all very well and good, we've still yet to see Activision Blizzard enact much meaningful change within the company itself. They recently announced that over 20 people reported for their behaviour had "exited" ActiBliz. It's a good start, but they've still yet to meet the demands of employee group ABK Worker's Alliance, who're calling for more transparency and an end to forced arbitration. Employees have also joined up with a union to file charges of unfair labour practices, accusing the company of "intimidation and union busting".