Overwatch already has a few gay characters (Tracer and Soldier 76), many queer undertones, and a large legion of LGBTQ+ players. Now, it can add a deadname to its repertoire.
Over five years since the game first came out, one of the game’s original characters has been renamed Cole Cassidy after previously being named after one of the game’s lead designers, Jesse McCree, who was named in a bombshell harassment and discrimination suit against developer company Blizzard Entertainment.
Meet Cole Cassidy.
Rides into Overwatch October 26. pic.twitter.com/CT6PmaNXNs
— Overwatch (@PlayOverwatch) October 22, 2021
For those unfamiliar, Overwatch is a team-based, but first-shooter, video game that was first released in 2016, but continues to remain one of the most popular video games and esports over the last few years.
Over those years as well, Blizzard has been accused of intentionally objectifying its female characters, culturally appropriation in the design of some, and criticism for the lack of Black female representation in Overwatch, among other issues the company has faced over the game.
The Blizzard lawsuit in July did not help their public image in the gaming community, especially as they had just begun developing Overwatch 2 and McCree had become the director of Blizzard’s Diablo 4 game. Players and commentators participating in the game’s official esports league began refusing to say the character’s name, disturbed with the association and implicit support of the character’s namesake it could convey. Instead, many would refer to him as “the cowboy,” since that’s the stereotype his character was developed from anyway.
Now, Blizzard has tried to solve that issue by listening to their players’ demands and changing the name in the latest update to the game, allowing for Overwatch players to continue on without the disturbing legacy of Blizzard’s culture of sexual harassment and misogyny to haunt over them (directly, anyway.)
McCree's name doesn't exist in Overwatch. All were replaced by Cole Cassidy.
Skin descriptions were updated with the new name and his position in Hero Select has moved.
and all the voice lines that mention his name have been replaced. pic.twitter.com/Fp0nlB7d0f
— Naeri X 나에리 💙 (@OverwatchNaeri) October 26, 2021
“The first thing a renegade loses is their name, and this one gave up his long ago,” Overwatch’s announcement read in part. “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.”
Of course, a major name change of that level did not come with out some kinks along the way, and some parts of the game did not immediately replace Cassidy’s former name, but the fix was largely implemented smoothly, with some players unlikely to notice until they play as Cassidy or try to find him in the alphabetically-ordered character selection menu.
The name change also doesn’t make everything smooth sailing from here on out. The same day that Cassidy’s name change was implemented in-game updates, on October 26, Blizzard ended up “pausing” all BlizzCon events planned for 2022 as the company’s alleged terrible culture and treatment of employees continues to haunt them.
While the game is still beloved, many Overwatch OGs (original gamers) have become disillusioned with the changes over the years, and there is still plenty of concern over the upcoming sequel itself, which could lead to the game exploding even more in popularity or getting completely abandoned by its base of players.
Of course, there’s also the “McCree” loyalists, who are still calling Cassidy’s now-former name out in Twitch streams or elsewhere online, to stand against the “cancellation” of the player and/or his namesake. Most people are just trolling are using the opportunity to get some good memes in. Hopefully.
is he really “cole cassidy” though?? pic.twitter.com/tcuhe5gpRE
— JM (@coolbeansjorge) October 22, 2021
Cole Cassidy talking to the Overwatch crew. pic.twitter.com/RW7UnCjkbG
— kero🍓 (@vlntslnt) October 22, 2021
Bro If I hear someone call him Cassidy or Cole I will personally come to you're house and slap the shit outta you he will ALWAYS be Cree pic.twitter.com/oeA7N1bnwI
— Darkk (@Darkk_Phantom) October 26, 2021
Wow bro so cool. I bet you feel real cool huh. What a cool guy I wish I could be cool like you. Too bad I don't like referring to video game characters as Sex offenders.
— Chrono (@Chrono_Ow) October 27, 2021
please do not deadname cole cassidy
— Niandra! (@Niandra_) October 22, 2021
Others also note that the name change doesn’t really amount to anything substantial, and even though over 20 Blizzard employees have left in the light of the alleged abusive environment, the lawsuit and allegations continue on.
Cole Cassidy everybody ! 😊 pic.twitter.com/g2RD3hviYJ
— Spooky Lukie (@SpoookyLukie) October 22, 2021
Bizzard after Cole Cassidy name change: pic.twitter.com/QHh5pTyx2L
— 💙 ᴘᴀsʜ ✨ | Comms Closed (@SamHundley01) October 22, 2021
Either way, the deadname jokes shall ensue.
Evil Cole Cassidy be like
My name is Jesse Mccree
— Jord (Final Two Letters will be patched in) (@EXPayline) October 22, 2021
Insisting on calling Cole Cassidy by his deadname proves you are transphobic pic.twitter.com/KT5yI870E0
— Leo (Saint Dismas Arc) (@Leodgrad) October 23, 2021
JESSE WAS HIS DEADNAME COLE CASSIDY CANONICALLY TRANS
— mint (@mintsoir) October 22, 2021
Some good news to come from this development, at least, is that Overwatch players can now change their battletag names for free through the end of next week. Previously, players were stuck with the name they chose unless they forked over a $10 fee for it.
One thing’s for sure, it’s time to update our past “Queerest Characters in Overwatch, Ranked” list.