With the rain clouds dispersed and the sun returning in full force to our barren landscape, it's time we again start posting anything we find pertaining to this unknown project. I'll start with two articles that I found helped quench the land ever so slightly. Please post any articles you come across here for others to enjoy
Project Titan: A brief history of a Game the Doesn't exist
For the last several years, the MMO community has been abuzz with rumors regarding Blizzard Entertainment's Project Titan. Long reported to be a brand-new MMO based on an entirely original intellectual property, Titan was a top-secret project discussed only through occasional interviews, job postings, and hearsay. No footage ever slipped through the cracks; no early alpha build accidentally leaked to the web.
Unfortunately, Project Titan as we knew it is no more. Rumors broke in May that development on the project had been restarted from scratch, and Blizzard offered comments that didn't so much as confirm those rumors as lend them a hefty amount of credence. Now it seems as though whatever we might have known about Titan may no longer apply, and whatever Blizzard had created so far may never see the light of day.
With that in mind, let's take a little adventure through the rumorsphere and look back on the history ofProject Titan and the stories surrounding it.
In the beginning, there were jobs
Rumors regarding Titan go back as far as 2007. Savvy fans of World of Warcraft noticed a job listing for "Lead 3D Character Artist - Next-Gen MMO" on Blizzard's careers site and took to the WoW forums in hope of finding an answer. Community representative Drysc answered, explaining that Blizzard was on the hunt for new talent to help with the company's "unannounced next-gen MMO." Drysc confirmed that the new game was not a World of Warcraft expansion but offered no details. Blizzard, as you might imagine, provided no further comment.
Things went mostly quiet on the Titan front until late 2010, when a leak of Blizzard's five-year product roadmap found its way to the web. Listed in the leak were potential release dates for Diablo III andStarCraft II, expansion and movie plans for World of Warcraft, and of course, the release of an entirely new MMO known as Titan. According to the roadmap, Titan was set for release sometime in 2013. The schedule was never confirmed or denied, though Blizzard China's general manager, Ye Wuilun, left the company soon after, which provoked rumors that his exit had something to do with the leak.
As the hypothetical 2013 release date approached, a clearer vision of Titan's development cycle began to emerge thanks to Blizzard's increasing willingness to talk about the project. Mike Morhaime discussedTitan in February of 2011, noting that Blizzard had "some of [Blizzard's] most experienced MMO developers" working on the project. Morhaime stated again that Titan was not a WoW sequel and claimed that "people who spent years working on the World of Warcraft team" were focused on its production. He briefly mentioned core MMO concepts like playing in guilds and making new friends but did not reveal anything previously unknown or unsuspected.
About a month later, COO Paul Sams went on the record regarding Titan. Speaking with Venture Beat, Sams claimed that Titan was being built by a "dream team," and that the game was going to "blow people's minds." He also echoed previous claims from other Blizzard executives that the game could co-exist with World of Warcraft, noting, "we believe that it will be more complementary than competitive." In other words: Project Titan was very likely not a fantasy-based RPG, or at least not so fantasy-RPG as to be confused with WoW.
"From an outsider's perspective, it certainly seemed as though the game might finally be on its way toward some sort of official reveal."
In a different interview (from the same month), Sams explained that Blizzard was "very confident" in Titan and that "the reach of that product [would be] greater than anything that [Blizzard had] done before." Sams set a lofty goal for Titan: "Hopefully in 10, 15, and 20 years, that [new MMO] will still be growing strong and will have set a new mark in the industry for that type of product." He also let it slip that the game was finally in playable form.
By September of 2012, development was apparently moving at full speed. Blizzard president of game design Rob Pardo confirmed in an interview with Curse that the title was "in the middle of development" and revealed that the Titan team was made up of over 100 people. He did note that Titanwas "a very big project [with] a long way to go," but from an outsider's perspective, it certainly seemed as though the game might finally be on its way toward some sort of official reveal.
The scrap heap
If the fall of 2012 marked the high point of anticipation for Titan, spring of 2013 marked the crash. May brought rumors that the entire Titan project had been rebooted, with all existing work being scrapped in favor of starting anew. Blizzard spokesperson Shon Damron explained, "We've come to a point where we need to make some large design and technology changes to the game," revealing that some developers had been pulled off the project while the "core team adapt[ed Blizzard's] technology and tools" to the new changes.
Mike Morhaime went a step further on an August Activision-Blizzard earnings call, noting, "We're in the process of selecting a new direction for the project and re-envisioning what we want the game to be." He didn't jump any deeper into the details of what Titan might have been before, but he did say, "It is unlikely to be a subscription-based MMORPG." As of the writing of this article, the only further tidbit of data onTitan is that it was quietly removed from the Blizzard Entertainment careers page.
Over the last seven years, Blizzard has ducked, dived, and dodged questions related to Titan. Fan rumors pegged it as a StarCraft spin-off, an MMOFPS, a WoW sequel, and anything else that seemed to fit. Meanwhile, no official art was ever revealed, no trailer ever shown, and no release date ever mentioned. With rumors now hinting that Titan's earliest launch window is 2016, it appears as though we are no closer to concrete information on the project now then we were seven years ago.
Still, one has to wonder what the folks at Blizzard are cooking up in the magic, money-printing building they call home. After all, no other PC-exclusive studio has managed to assert such dominance over the marketplace for so long, and the world has yet to see any game that could accurately be labeled a "WoW-killer." Whatever Project Titan was and whatever it may become, it will remain one of the most anticipated projects in MMO history.
The Factor of WoW
You all remember this infamous timeline of releases that got leaked, it made a lot of sense at the time.
This chart came to light in 2010 and many used it as a metric for how close Blizzard was to their targets, something they’ve been notoriously cagey about. Mists was released in September of 2012, represented by ‘WOW X4? on the chart. The following expansion, whatever that is, was slated to be released at the end of 2013. I seriously doubt that will happen, but it’s easy money to say that it’d be released in 2014. Originally, Titan was scheduled to be released at the end of 2013, but we all know that will not happen now.
So the question I’ve been mulling around with is: With Titan going completely back to the drawing board then what happens to WoW? I can see the business meeting where these timelines were originally decided, by the time the majority of the subscriber base tire of WoW then we can roll out Titan and maintain the base along with the natural influx of new gamers. Now this won’t happen, it can’t. Not with ever-decreasing number of people willing to pay a subscription fee and the ever-increasing number of free-to-play MMOs. At best, we’re looking at least three years before Titan v2 goes to consumers. If that’s true, then is WoW supposed to carry Blizzard through it?
WoW is old. We all know this and have known it for years. And whether we like it or not the end of WoW is coming ever-closer to being a reality, or at least the end of it being the MMO of choice. This isn’t to say that WoW subs will hit zero sometime soon, but I do think that WoW’s place as the de facto MMO in the market grows more questionable with each passing day. The delay of Titan, I believe, will force WoW to even further increase it’s lifespan longer than Blizzard had originally intended and I’m not sure players will stick around. My point here is simple, given the decrease in subscribers over the years, I do not believe WoW can continue to have a substantial impact on the market without some significant changes.
It would appear that the Titan delay will mean that WoW needs at least one more expansion other than the one being announced this year. This means more than simply adding a dance studio, new races, new classes, or even brand new models for every asset they have. A fundamental change to the game appears to be the only thing that can turn around WoW’s subscriber base. I have no doubt that Blizzard has considered this point as well, but what they will do about it… I really don’t know.
Of course, it is possible that Blizzard may not feel the need to turn around the decreasing subscriber trend. They may just ride out the wave until the end and then release Titan whenever they feel like it. It certainly sounds like something Blizzard would do. Though I would imagine that’s not exactly an easy sell to Activision share-holders who are used to having subscriber money.
Regardless of what ends up happening, it’ll be interesting to watch. This Blizzcon will be very telling.