Two of the biggest massively multiplayer games that were in development have officially been cancelled. With World of Darkness on the scrap heap and now Titan, Blizzard’s World of Warcraft successor, well and truly banished into the development abyss. Firstly, I’m not surprised at Titan’s demise. Seven years of development, multiple rewrites and absolutely no information made it nothing more than vaporware. What I find surprising in all of this is the fact that as a result of Titan being canned, the only AAA MMOG on the horizon is EverQuest Next.
So what’s going on in the industry? Of all the companies to cancel a massively multiplayer project, I’m surprised it’s Blizzard. They’ve near infinite resources and World of Warcraft is still paying for trips to Las Vegas where the entire studio dances nude on the strip before setting fire to $100 bills. We then have Hearthstone that has singlehandedly turned the entire universe into card lovers and is no doubt earning plenty of money in the process.
The reasons that Blizzard have provided for not pursuing Titan is PR nonsense. It’s gibberish for “what we were making was rubbish” and if we’re honest, Blizzard have landed lucky far too often. World of Warcraft, I believe, was a complete fluke with subsequent updates and content released slowly deteriorating the product. We then have Diablo III which still stands as one of the worst games I’ve ever played, and Starcraft II which although solid (with a massive following) is hardly an original or awe inspiring game.
"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."
Sadly for Blizzard, they’re incapable of coming up with new and fresh IP’s and most importantly, games that are original in design. They’re a bit like Apple in the fact that they take a good idea, refine it and repackage it. What they’re then left with is a game that has iterated on those before it, to the point where it’s passable as unique, but still very familiar. It’d probably be unfair to say Hearthstone wasn’t a good product, in fact everything Blizzard make is good. Nothing they make however is unique or original.
In the grand scheme of things, I just think it’s totally irrelevant that they cancelled a product no one knew anything about. Just because they had success with World of Warcraft doesn’t in any way mean that they could have repeated it. I think in actual fact, they’d have simply attempted to recreate and iterate upon the market once more but considering 90% of the market is still copying World of Warcraft, that left them with nothing.
"We don't want to identify ourselves with a particular genre. We just want to make great games every time."
Another thing to consider is the fact that the massively multiplayer landscape has changed massively since World of Warcraft launched with the rise of free and buy to play. Most importantly, a new MMO is a long term commitment that's both costly and would likely result in the cannibilization of its own World of Warcraft subscribers. When a product such as Hearthstone can be made and monetized for a fraction of the cost and team size of an MMO, there's little wonder, then, that pursuit of creating another game in the genre was cancelled.
There’s clearly a lot of money still to be earned in the genre as evidenced by Destiny’s recent success but it takes something unique to grab and maintain the attention of players. Even more difficult is also dealing with their insatiable demands post launch. Doing that with two products is going to cause any company, irrespective of experience or size, a huge headache.
Where does this second cancellation leave the genre? Slightly in the abyss I’d say. It’s strengthened EverQuest Next as the only AAA product due to arrive in the next three years but it should give rise to some smaller, niche MMOG’s. As for the quality of other games on the horizon, it’s pretty slim pickings but there are a couple that have caught my attention (Skyforge being the main). In the mean time I think we’ll all have to make do with what we’re currently playing in the hopes that they keep it. Is that a bad thing? I don’t think so.
Players nowadays are too eager to hand over their cash and expect a product that’s as polished and accomplished as World of Warcraft, from day one. They forget that World of Warcraft is ten years old and as a result, has had the time to become the behemoth that it is today. Instead, players ping-pong between game after game searching for something - anything - that appeases their mystical expectations. For Blizzard to give up on this chase has probably allowed them to dodge a bullet that would inevitably harm their reputation. Can you imagine the fallout if they launched a massively multiplayer game that wasn’t perfect? Ouch.
What do you think the real reason for cancelling Titan is? Let me know!