Titan Felled

I spent about 10 minutes coming up with various clever variations on Titanfall and Attack on Titan, but alas.

Blizzard has killed Project Titan after seven years in development. That Polygon article is overflowing with choice quotes.

“We had created World of Warcraft, and we felt really confident that we knew how to make MMOs,” Morhaime said. “So we set out to make the most ambitious thing that you could possibly imagine. And it didn’t come together.

“We didn’t find the fun,” Morhaime continued. “We didn’t find the passion. We talked about how we put it through a reevaluation period, and actually, what we reevaluated is whether that’s the game we really wanted to be making. The answer is no.”

Some would certainly argue that Titan isn’t the only project they can no longer find the fun/passion for.

“Are we the MMORPG company?” he added later, in conclusion to that line of questioning.

Morhaime answered that last rhetorical question quite simply: “We don’t want to identify ourselves with a particular genre. We just want to make great games every time.”

Like… wow. (Err… no pun intended) That has “exit strategy” written all over it. And speaking of that:

Throughout the interview, Metzen and Morhaime suggested that the recent trend of smaller-scale Blizzard releases like Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm has played a part in the company moving away from Titan. […]

He explained that Hearthstone had helped the studio realize that they don’t need to fit themselves into the box of only making products of a certain scale.

I didn’t get the chance to mention it earlier, but Hearthstone hit 20 million players. Or “players,” whatever. It is still 10 million more than they had in March. While it’s tough to actually come to any sort of definitive conclusions about the significance of those numbers given how it’s a F2P game that is hitting mobile devices, it is clear that it wasn’t just a flash in the pan. If this analyst from CinemaBlend.com (…err) can be believed, Hearthstone could pull in $30 million in revenue this year… which is basically 14% of what WoW brings in yearly. Not bad for a team of 12-15 people.

Back to Titan though, being cynical is easy and mostly safe. However, I am beginning to agree with Gazimoff of Mana Obscura in that this might be the death of the super-genre MMO. “We won’t see another heavyweight MMORPG released by a major studio in the next two years.” I was going to say that EverQuest Next sort of proves that wrong, but that is probably a bit more than two years out, and who knows if it even gets released at all; Landmark might just cannibalize it, if it doesn’t cannibalize itself first. But surely there is something else… oh. Maybe not.

Whether you are celebrating the news – perhaps hoping that more tightly-focused niche MMOs will spring up in the vacuum “as they should be” – or lamenting the loss of AAA tourism, I do want to take a moment to mark the occasion. Because it is an end of an era, or another sign of it at the least. And while we can sit back and suggest that WoW “ruined” “real” virtual worlds like Ultima Online or Everquest or whatever, I do feel a bit sad to think that what we have is it. Specialization is great and all, but when I look at the ex-WoW guild member friends I have made, I see a group of people whom I have never consistently played any other games with. The “super-genre” WoW was pretty much the extent of our shared gaming interests; there is some tiny overlap here and there, but getting the hardcore Civ, the Team Fortress 2, and The Sims players all together as an officer core for a 5-year old guild was goddamn magic.

Titan was unlikely to have rekindled things for my disparate, dispersed cohorts, true. Sometimes things just reach their natural conclusions. And maybe there is something to be said about making friends with more similar interests in the first place. Still… I can’t help but feel a loss, somehow.

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Posted on September 24, 2014, in Commentary and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. What’s the difference between “Titan”, which would surely include everything that worked in WoW and “WoW plus everything that didin’t suck in Titan”.

    They no longer have to hold back good ideas to have something new for Titan, they can finally go back to make WoW better, bigger and more epic. There’s no longer a reason to not make WoW the best MMO they can. And if that happens we win all. We have both, Titan and a huge player base to start with.

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    • The problem is that WoW has all sorts of design ruts that are more or less permanent at this stage. For example, what if Titan didn’t have class specs? Or classes at all? What if it did not have LFD? What if character progression was based around a EVE-like system? There is quite literally no end to the potential design innovations/refinements that would be impossible to shoehorn into WoW’s current and future design.

      I honestly do not expect WoW to change all that much mechanically in the next decade, if not longer. There isn’t an impetus to do so – the 7+ million people still playing the game enjoy the game as-is. Introducing crazy new things into that formula is pretty risky, and there isn’t likely any upside for doing so.

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  2. If a 10yr old WoW can retain 7 million subs with no new content in over a year, why continue to develop and support another title in the same genre? My only surprise is that they didn’t officially cancel it sooner. No reason to cannibalize your own customers.

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    • Yeah, it is pretty insane the things that WoW – and only WoW – seems to be able to get away with. I can’t imagine another MMO that can go that long without any meaningful updates without basically losing everyone but the most hardcore of the hardcore.

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  3. I’m really curious about what Titan was going to be. I’d love to hear the pitch, see some concept art, etc. I seriously doubt that will ever happen because the assets still have value, but man after all this time just to hear “Nevermind” is really anti-climactic.

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