Why did Blizzard Delay Project Titan? [speculation, poll]
We also got an official response from the company, mostly confirming the rumor (although no exact details were given)
So what actually happened? I'll be damned if I know, but here are some of the main working theories! Maybe some day we'll know and we can look back and see how close to the actual truth we were.
Back in 2006 / 2007 when the project first started, Free To Play was probably the last thing in Blizzard's mind. Since then things have changed greatly and the F2P model is slowly taking over, even for major, high-budget games. The company already has two projects coming out with this plan, why not make it three? Switching the game from monthly subs to F2P with in-game store does take significant design and tech changes, so this part at least fits with what we know.
On the con side, it takes artists too to populate the in-game store with vanity stuff, so it's no real reason to downsize the team so drastically. It's also a big experiment for Blizzard, so I think they would first wait to release one game with the F2P model before switching their biggest project to it.
We know that Blizzard has big plans for this game, very big plans. Rob Pardo has teased us with statements like "people are not going to really expect what they see coming from us this time" and pretty much everyone that talked about it has said that it's an incredibly complex and interesting project. So what if it was just a little big too big and daring? Some features sound great on paper, but they never quite reach a stable state in the actual game, either because of tech limitations or just because they don't play well. Maybe this was the case with some of Titan's main features, so they had to go back to the drawing board and seriously re-think them.
Not much to list on the con side for this one. It's actually something Blizzard has done in the past, with SC: Ghost for example, so there you go, another pro argument even if I was supposed to find something against it.
Too... not Daring
With long development times come great risks. Namely that your game won't feel so new and different by the time you actually get close to shipping it. For most companies there's no way back and they have to just "smile and wave" through it, hoping that players will still enjoy it. Blizzard can afford to go back and often does so and it might be the case for Titan too.
Against this option is the fact that it doesn't seem likely that they set-off in 2006/7 to make just another WoW clone, especially since it was becoming obvious that WoW still had a long road ahead of it. They had money and time to make something really special, so it's safe to assume that their initial goals were pretty special and future proof.
Refurbishing the Engine
Everything's quickly evolving in the IT world, so a project that has its roots way back in 2006 / 2007 can arguably be called old by now. Maybe it was decided that it's time to focus on the back-end for a while and have it catch up with the newest developments, while also making extra tools for the design team to use.
While this is a viable option, on its own it seems like it can't affect a project that much, since usually any upgrades to the engine and tools are done real-time, in small steps. It's also does not involve design changes, not in a major way at least.
Blizzard is stretched thin right now, with SC2: LotV, D3: X1, WoW: X5, HS and All-Stars in full development. And they're all closer to the finish line than Titan, a project they obviously like to slow-cook. Considering they have some of their best people on the Titan team, maybe they decided to use them to boost some of their other games for a while, just to get them out the door faster (and in a better shape ofc). Sure, they have some tech and design changes to do meanwhile, but maybe in different conditions they wouldn't have decided to shift so many people around and implicitly delay the project because of them.
While WoW is still strong and on a development spree, with big patches launching every quarter, the downwards trend has become incontestable, even by Blizzard itself. It's also their biggest money maker, so they need a replacement ready if they want to keep their luxurious dev practices and the Blizzard style of "soon" and "when it's ready". Unless they think All-Stars can fill this role, Titan shouldn't really be at the very bottom of the priority queue.
These are my main theories. If you have any solid new ones, I will add them to the article, so let us know in the comments!
I've also attached a poll below, based on what I wrote above. Unfortunately I can't add any other new options to it after I publish it, without resetting the results, so if you agree with one of the other options expressed in the comments, or if you have your own, choose the Different Reason option. Also take note that you can vote for two options. Really curious to see the results!