Titan, a casual game ? Yes, but no!
There's been a lot of buzz recently about how casual Titan will be. It all started from a stock advice report(PDF) of all things, in which Arvind Bhatia, a financial advisor working for a firm called Sterne Agee, labeled Blizzard's new project as a "casual mmo".
Most of the gaming sites picked this up as it is and as a consequence, in the last few days the words casual and Titan have become bound together with steel chains. Next is my take on all this, which is a bit more reserved with the name calling. Here's why...
First of all, one has to be a bit reluctant to accept a gaming label posed by someone who has no visible expertise in the field. Without knowing his sources and who advised him in his projections, we can't really take his word for it.
Considering the very few details we currently know about Titan and accepting that Arvind Bhatia has no inside scouts feeding him info (which is a very probable hypothesis), it's quite easy to pinpoint the source of his casual label:
We think that the reach of that product is greater than anything that we've done before. We're very excited about that. I believe that it's the type of game that will have a very long life, much like World of Warcraft has.
These 2 statements can indeed lead to the conclusion that Titan will be a casual game. Especially if that conclusion is taken by someone who is not in the industry or hasn't played / followed (Blizzard's) games that much. Like, lets say, a financial advisor.
What we've announced at Blizzard is that we have Starcraft coming, Diablo has been in production...and a new, unannounced MMOG that has a little more broad appeal
I'm not saying that the casual tag is unjustified. It's probably one important way of describing the new game, but it is certainly not the only one. An aspect omitted by everyone.
If you are a Blizzard fan, you know that one reason for their success is that they managed to find a good way of combining casual and hardcore gameplay. One could easily say that World of Warcraft is a casual game. Mostly because it actually is, with girlfriends, mothers and grandpas joining in on the fun. But at the same time, it is home to some of the most hardcore gamers on the planet. Same goes for Starcraft 2, although on a smaller scale.
So "wide reach" and "broad appeal" do not translate only into casual. The dedicated (hardcore) gamers are growing in numbers and ignoring this entire audience would certainly not lead to achieving the goals Blizzard employees stated in the above quotes.
In conclusion, labeling Titan as a casual MMO, in my opinion, is only telling half the story. It will probably be, like most MMOs these days, a game with a strong casual appeal, but at the same time with features that will give more hardcore players a lot to do. All this wrapped inside an even stronger social blanket composed of BNET features, social networks integration (Facebook, Twitter, Google+), easy YouTube downloading and who knows what else. THIS would indeed be something with wide reach!
This being said, there is one part in Arvind Bhatia's report with which I 100% agree: invest in ActiBlizzard stock! They have good stuff on the production line, even if you only consider the blue giant's queue: SC2 expansion, Diablo 3 (which by the way is going to be huuuge), WoW expansion and ofcourse, Titan!