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.
As you may have heard, the companies behind Kingdoms of Amalur and the followup MMO are basically out of business. While I am sensitive to the dangers of schadenfreude, and loath to quote the same guy twice in three days, there was something about Keen’s final good-luck paragraph that struck me oddly:
[…] Following games closely and being so excited for something, just to have it shut down at a moment’s notice, is the hardest part of being such eager gaming enthusiasts. Such potential for something fresh or new is destroyed, but we’ll continue to see a new Call of Duty game released every year and a horrible MMO will see the light of day simply because it has a huge publisher. So frustrating.
Kotaku is reporting that 38 Studios only would have been saved if Amalur sold 3 million copies.
Let that sink in. Three million copies or bust. Depending on who you ask, Amalur sold between 400k and 1 million.
I dunno, I am of two minds on the implicit lament in Keen’s quote. I do consider it a serious problem that the barrier to entry for RPGs (and games in general) has gotten so high as to choke out all but the biggest studios. Remember the thousands of garbage NES games on the shelves back in the early 90s? Most were bad, but at least it appeared as though someone with a good game concept had a realistic chance of getting their cartridge on store shelves.
On the other hand? I feel like it is a bit unrealistic. It is easy to hate on Call of Duty when a “new” one is pumped out every year… but Black Ops sold 25 million copies. MW3 made $1 billion in 16 days, and that was seven months ago; god only knows how much it’s up to now.
Desiring fresh and new things is fine, but it’s code for “I’m not getting catered to.” At some point, you have to ask “Who can afford to cater to me?” If Amalur’s direction was your thing, good for you, but the market clearly couldn’t support it. So… Curt Schilling should have settled for less, designing a less expensive game with a lower break-even point. But would any of us have been satisfied with that? Would you be fine playing an indie-level MMO or other game? Would you be willing to lower your (obviously high) standards to meet the developers making the actual games you’re talking about?
I am probably not coming across very clear; in fact, if any of that makes sense to you, let me know, because it kinda doesn’t make sense to me. It is just that whenever I see a lament about how a “horrible MMO will see the light of day” as compared to presumably a good one on the cutting-room floor, I cannot help but shake the “Whose fault is that?” retort. The publisher? The fans? Or our own unreasonable expectations?
Whatever the case, I always a respect for those who attempt to shoot the moon. Win or lose, you always leave with a story – which is more than most.