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Titan Officially Announced as Cancelled. Dealing with the Unanswered Questions.


Nota Bene

Make sure to check the previous articles as well, for more info on Blizzard's current unannounced projects and also for a bit of meta discussion on the future of TitanFocus.

 

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We all knew it (at least those that had watched Titan more closely) however it is finally official: Titan is no more. Rest in Peace big guy. We never really knew you, but you will be missed!
 
"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."
Chris Metzen, Blizzard's senior vice president of story and franchise development, called the decision to cancel Titan "excruciating."

So, let's see what we've learned from this official announcement, made via Polygon. *goes through the interview for the 10th time* As it turns out, quite nothing! 
 
We did get a confirmation that Blizzard is not currently involved in the development of any MMOs, as shown in the below quote, however this was also something highly speculated and basically taken as a given by many of us.
 
"I wouldn't say no to ever doing an MMO again," Morhaime said. "But I can say that right now, that's not where we want to be spending our time."

It's a pretty funny quote, considering it is coming from a company that has as its main income source an MMO which will hopefully be supported by the company indefinitely, according to Chris Metzen in this same interview. This apparent contradiction I think tells us more than the entire interview.
 
"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."

First of all let's get the obvious out of the way. A company as big as Blizzard, sewn together to an even bigger corporation, when deciding the fate of a project does not actually take into consideration if they're having fun building it or if it's what each developer / designer wants to make, or if it's something they can get passionate about. These are just buzzwords specific to the entertainment industry, used just to make it easier to explain financial and strategic decisions to the general public. The only questions that do matter are "Will it sell?", "Will it last long-term?" "How risky it is?" and other similarly practical issues.
 
I'm not saying this as some kind of blame, just in order to make things clearer. All developers / designers are people (doh) with families and loans and I guarantee you that the project they'll get most passionate about is the one they believe it will be most successful. It matters very little if it's an MMO or not. This applies even more to the higher up people, such as Chris Metzen and Mike Morhaime. MM would like nothing more for Blizzard to be considered THE MMO company if that would mean pulling off a new World of Warcraft, in terms of success and revenue.
 
"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."

 
So why not a second MMO? Why not Titan?

The obvious answer would be that all big game developers are running away from the MMO genre, due to its stained reputation, the high initial investment needed and the risk factor. We got this impression even from inside Activision, as Bungie's marketing department did its best to label as not an MMO a game which was obviously an MMO. Even if it wasn't, they would have been happy to let it be called that way if they thought it would be advantageous. They obviously didn't think this.
 
While likely a major part in Blizzard's decision to cancel Titan, it cannot be the only part. You do not cancel an ongoing project just because it's an MMO, no matter how risky the genre is considered these days for major developers.
 
I would thus like to suggest the missing piece, namely that Blizzard has become too big to make big projects. This I believe is true in a couple of ways.
 

 Activision Blizzard has always been defined as a company that bases its success on extremely high revenue from very

few projects. Blizzard especially, since before the launch of Diablo 3, they were basically making money only from World of Warcraft. An immense risk for any company. 

 
Alarm bells went off at both Activision and Blizzard to diversify their income sources. I can't speak for Activision, however this has become more than obvious with Blizzard. World of Warcraft was morphed to be able to bring money even if somehow they were forced to lose the subscription, thus minimising its risk value. Old franchises were reborn (SC2 / D3) and new, smaller ones were created (HotS, HS). We also suspect of at least 2 projects in the works, some close to release. This is a huge change for the company. I remember pretty much everyone, from players to press, being shocked at Blizzard launching a "small" game as Hearthstone. Well, get ready for 2,3,4 more just as "small" in the near future!


 In the process of becoming huge, Blizzard lost its developing discipline. When working at a very large project, the easiest thing to happen is to get absolutely lost in its details, obsesses over the smallest things and be annoyed this still-in-progress project is not already perfect. Have a look at the below quotes and tell me this isn't what happened with Titan.

 

We were losing perspective and getting lost in the weeds a little. We had to allow ourselves to take that step back and reassess why the hell we were doing that thing in the first place."

We were trying to do the right thing and build the right, smart product, and keep it all moving...

And there's times where they just drive each other batshit crazy. For as good as they are and the experience they have, sometimes you just don't find it, and you've got to get out of the damn studio and go have a beer and regroup.

 
I refuse to believe that a project which Blizzard, one of the largest gaming companies in the world, "set out to make the most ambitious thing that you could possibly imagine", was not something we would have found fun and played the crap out of. Nothing short of showing me the game itself *nudge nudge* will convince me otherwise.
 
I am certain that the project was not flawed or too ambitious by itself, more than any game is in pre-pre-alpha. It was however too big and too ambitious as a game developed by Blizzard. If we take a look at the company's history, this should become obvious. Every project has gone through delays and there haven't been any really major projects since, well, since World of Warcraft. 
 
"But Mynsc, surely you are forgetting Diablo 3!" You mean the game that suffered endless delays and was launched half-complete? Furthermore, for Diablo 3 Blizzard had a very clear pattern to follow, that of Diablo 2. It was making a sequel, not a brand new game. Same with Starcraft 2, which is virtually identical with the original Starcraft, except 10 years into the future.
 
Heroes of the Storm and Hearthstone also do not get close, even when counted together, to the magnitude of Project Titan, from a development point of view.
 
In other words, Blizzard is a huge company that since 2004 has not launched any truly major and new projects. No matter how you look at it, it is not a company that was suited to complete a very large project such as Titan. Having deep pockets is useful for such projects only if you have an inside culture that's disciplined and organised enough to be able to use them.
 
This may very well be by choice (knowingly or not), as the company has always prided itself in its ability to ignore deadlines. And we may very well be looking at the company embracing this and thus focusing on smaller projects. Less risk, more income sources, a more efficient development model. Hell, if Hearthstone is of any relevance, probably even more fun games! This may very well be a winning bet for them.
 
"Damage the relationship. Smash the trust."

However the transition period may be harder for us, the players, than for Blizzard. I find it truly sad, at a personal level (not criticising the company in any way), that I know to not expect any major AAA games from Blizzard, one of the biggest gaming companies and definitely one of my favorite ones. I love Hearthstone, I play it almost daily and I spend money on it, however it will never be Warcraft, Starcraft or Diablo. Well, it technically is Warcraft, but you hopefully get my meaning.
 
What was Titan?

What I find even sadder is that we are heading towards never knowing what Titan was. An incredibly ambitious project, the MMO that was to replace World of Warcraft, the game too big to exist. However we do not have a single non-metaphorical detail regarding it.
 
And now that it is past the point of official cancellation, we're at risk of never really finding out. Sure, we may assume some of the features and worlds in Blizzard's next games have been taken from Titan, but will we ever know this for certain?
 
At this point I'm half-expecting to only find out 10 years from now, in a Blizzard-made documentary for a 20 year anniversary or something of the sorts. 
 
I do not feel entitled to private info from a company, however I do think it would have been nice and awesome for them to include in this announcement a screenshot or at least a sentence of concrete actual info regarding Titan. Although it's true that this would have had the opposite effect of what they hoped to achieve with this, namely to make people forget about Titan and make room for new games, such as Overwatch.






13 Comments

Terrible news. We're in dark times for gaming. I should feel more impacted but I probably lost hope a long time ago. Goodbye cruel gaming world. Long live the new flesh

If we believe the rumours/leaks from April 2013 it makes sense for me that they weren't able to make a good game out of it. 3rd Person and sometimes First Person (o0), Earth's History & Mythology, Guns AND Spell Casting, eSport Focus. To be honest, this already did not sound great for me. After the reset i was hoping they will do something like Destiny for PC, just bigger and better. First Person FPS in an open World with Thousands of Players in it like it is in WoW. Dungeons and Raids and Battlegrounds like in WoW, where you can constantly upgrade your Gear and go for Best in Slot. But why in hell should they build a better Destiny, when there is a Destiny from the "same" Company? I think making Destiny not with Blizzard itself was a big mistake, there is a big market for an MMOFPS on PC such as i described.

I don't know whether you saw the Joystiq reporting of this, but there were a few choice comments from Mike Foster who was a Blizz support guy in the past.

http://massively.joy...19449:216512810

Seems it might have stood on Destiny's toes.

If we believe the rumours/leaks from April 2013 it makes sense for me that they weren't able to make a good game out of it. 3rd Person and sometimes First Person (o0), Earth's History & Mythology, Guns AND Spell Casting, eSport Focus. To be honest, this already did not sound great for me. After the reset i was hoping they will do something like Destiny for PC, just bigger and better. First Person FPS in an open World with Thousands of Players in it like it is in WoW. Dungeons and Raids and Battlegrounds like in WoW, where you can constantly upgrade your Gear and go for Best in Slot. But why in hell should they build a better Destiny, when there is a Destiny from the "same" Company? I think making Destiny not with Blizzard itself was a big mistake, there is a big market for an MMOFPS on PC such as i described.

 

While at the time I did fully believe in that leak and its source, since then I've stumbled onto quite a few hints that it was not genuine. The TL;DR version would be that someone that was involved in the gaming industry wanted to play a joke / spread some rumours. I haven't posted this in an article as I am not 100% certain that it was ALL fake, plus that the reset came very soon after.

I don't know whether you saw the Joystiq reporting of this, but there were a few choice comments from Mike Foster who was a Blizz support guy in the past.

http://massively.joy...19449:216512810

Seems it might have stood on Destiny's toes.

 

It would be such a silly reason to delay / reset a game.

 

I'm assuming he is referring to the 2013 delay, so that would mean that the two companies didn't realise the huge overlap until one of the games was 1 year away from launch and the other probably half-way through. It's true that Bungie is still an external company, however along the way Activision should have made damn sure there were no conflicts.

I don't know whether you saw the Joystiq reporting of this, but there were a few choice comments from Mike Foster who was a Blizz support guy in the past.

http://massively.joy...19449:216512810

Seems it might have stood on Destiny's toes.

 

no i did not read that, thanks for posting. makes all sense :/

I refuse to believe that a project which Blizzard, one of the largest gaming companies in the world, "set out to make the most ambitious thing that you could possibly imagine", was not something we would have found fun and played the crap out of. Nothing short of showing me the game itself *nudge nudge* will convince me otherwise.
 
I am certain that the project was not flawed or too ambitious by itself, more than any game is in pre-pre-alpha. It was however too big and too ambitious as a game developed by Blizzard. If we take a look at the company's history, this should become obvious. Every project has gone through delays and there haven't been any really major projects since, well, since World of Warcraft.

It seems like the game was too big and too complex for it to meet Blizzard's original goals. They realized they either had to scale it down even more than what they'd planned in 2013 or development would take too long/cost too much.

 

This quote from the interview seems to suggest that, "In many ways, Titan was that for us," Metzen said. "We took a step back and realized that it had some cool hooks. It definitely had some merit as a big, broad idea, but it didn't come together. It did not distill. The music did not flow. For all our good intentions and our experience and the pure craftsmanship that we brought together, we had to make that call."

 

MM said something similiar to this back at Blizzcon 2013.

 

What I want to know is:

 

1) What is Overwatch?

2) Why hasn't WoD's development been faster? They said in Spring of 2013 that a lot of Titan's team had been sent to other projects. But it's still taking over a year for WoD to drop since the last raid tier was cleared. I think it's an even longer wait than Cata > Mop. This isn't to bitch about WoD's development. It really makes you wonder what the former Titan team is up to. It seems like they're working on something.

3) Why did it take this long to figure out Titan needed to be abandoned? I don't think Blizzard's other cancelled projects were in development for as long as Titan was. Uppermanagement of Activision has known about this game for years and now they cancel?

 

I'm leaning toward Overwatch being some sort of spin-off from Titan's development which had undergone so many changes it can't even be considered the same genre of game anymore. Maybe some features of Blizzard's "big, broad idea" evolved into a stand-alone game which involved less risk and more reward.

What gets me is if it was so similar to Destiny, how Activision as a whole didn't figure that out much earlier. Surely when ATVI signs a 10 year contract with Bungie, someone like Mike Morhaime goes "what's that other board members? you contracted in a studio to write a first person sci-fi MMO? Hmmm, did we tell you we were doing something similar for the last 5 years..."

 

As for why WoD has taken so long, Tom Chilton has gone on record saying the team had grown massively (prob in part from Titan refugees) but that it took a while to (re)train the new team members. Hopefully, this means we'll be getting faster expansions from now on.

 

I'm not getting my hopes up for BlizzCon though. I suspect we'll get a release date for Heroes and maybe some hints at SCII's third expac. Maybe some more minor news about WoD features we haven't already had confirmed.

i heard in a project management course once "Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later", seems to be true :D

Think some of you might be seeing the "Titan similar to Destiny" from the wrong angle. Who's to say that Destiny developers didn't see or know about the similarities with their game and Titan and say "screw it, we're releasing this first".

 

After all, agree or disagree with me on this...Destiny is not a complete game imo.

Think some of you might be seeing the "Titan similar to Destiny" from the wrong angle. Who's to say that Destiny developers didn't see or know about the similarities with their game and Titan and say "screw it, we're releasing this first".

 

After all, agree or disagree with me on this...Destiny is not a complete game imo.

I'm starting to wonder if this is a reason why Destiny wasn't initially announced for PC. Maybe they had a bigger, better idea for PC users.The markets are different. F2P and things like the Steam Workshop have been much more successful on PC. A F2P model for PC users could theoretically decrease revenues from the console market if Blizzard's business model didn't involve unit sales. I think upper management for Activision would be very worried if a future IP had the potential to do this.

I wonder..was titan all a publicity stunt of some kind to build interest to their other products, Anyone have any comment on this?


Could Titan have been some kind of a diversion of sort? A marketing ploy or a corporate strategy of some kind. What purpose? Its 2015...what has blizzard gained since then?