Overwatch's resident gunslinger finally has a new name: Jesse McCree is gone, and in his place stands an honest cowboy called Cole Cassidy.
“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,” Blizzard said in an announcement tweet. “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.”
The new name arises from allegations of widespread sexual harassment and discrimination at Activision Blizzard, which among other things saw the dismissal of Diablo 4 lead level designer Jesse McCree, for whom the Overwatch character was named. Blizzard said in August that it would rename the character “to something that better represents what Overwatch stands for.”
Meet Cole Cassidy.Rides into Overwatch October 26. pic.twitter.com/CT6PmaNXNsOctober 22, 2021
The change was clearly necessary—many in the community were calling for it, and some Overwatch casters stopped using the name in mid-August, opting to refer to him as simply “the cowboy” instead—but it also actually fits pretty well within Overwatch lore. It's been suggested in the past that Jesse McCree wasn't actually his real name: Sombra alludes to it in the interaction below, to which Cassidy replies, “Don't know what you heard, but my name's not Joel.”
No, it's Cole. Not bad, eh? The whole Joel reference was probably just a nod to the fact that Joel was McCree's placeholder name before Overwatch came out, but it seemingly opened the door to this new name change in the story.
Blizzard has renamed a number of other characters in its games in the wake of the sexual abuse allegations, including multiple World of Warcraft NPCs also named after McCree, as well as others named after former Diablo 4 game director Louis Barriga, former World of Warcraft designer Jonathan LeCraft, former creative director Alex Afrasiabi, and most recently, Cannibal Corpse lead singer George 'Corpsegrinder' Fisher, who was commemorated in World of Warcraft as orc questgiver Gorge the Corpsegrinder. Blizzard has since said that it will no longer name characters after real people.
Cole Cassidy—which presumably is his real name—will take his place among the ranks of Overwatch on October 26.