Hordes of World of Warcraft players flooded forums and message boards yesterday after the announcement that Blizzard Entertainment would not, as planned, be releasing another massively multiplayer online game.
Blizzard had worked on the project, code-named Titan, for seven years, with news of its development springing up just a few years after WOW launched. Blizzard kept the details of Titan a closely guarded secret, though sites speculated that it was a sci-fi themed MMO — something like a combination of Halo and WOW.
But instead of launching it this year, as a 2010 leaked timeline of Blizzard games suggested it would, a Blizzard representative confirmed yesterday that the company shut the game down.
The news hit WOW players in the form of an interview with Blizzard executives by another publication (which we later confirmed with the company).
“We didn’t find the fun,” Blizzard chief executive Mike Morhaime said of Titan in the interview with Polygon. “We didn’t find the passion.”
Players reacted swiftly. Gamers still in WOW a decade after its release were often well aware of Titan’s status on the horizon. Even after Blizzard rebooted Titan’s development last year, some still hoped that it would be The Next Big Thing in their Blizzard MMO love affair.
Comments fall into five basic camps.
“Great, spend that development time on WOW”
“Hopefully, by finally cutting the cord to Titan, they can refocus their talent and energy back into WOW and other new and existing IP, rather than carrying the dead weight of something whose time never came,” said a player on MMO-Champion.
“I never really cared about Titan, but it’ll be interesting to see some of those concepts filter down into World of Warcraft, Diablo, etc.,” wrote another.
To some degree, this has already happened. When Blizzard rebooted Titan, it assigned 70 of its 100 developers to “other projects” – with some of them going right back to WOW and the Warlords of Draenor expansion pack, releasing November 13. (MMO-Champion speculates that others might be working on a new project altogether – codenamed Prometheus.)
If fans don’t want the development time to go to WOW, they’re most-frequently voting for new Warcraft sequels.
“I have no interested in another MMORPG right now, but if Blizzard made a followup to Warcraft 3 — what I consider to be their best game, period — I’d be ecstatic,” one commenter on the Polygon story said.
“What? Noooo! I’ve been looking forward to that for 7 years!”
A vocal segment of current WOW players traded their excitement at the idea of playing a new Blizzard MMO for disappointment.
“Sad news in any case,” wrote one. “All I’ve ever wanted was a WOW-esque sci-fi MMO. The only options, such as Star Wars: The Old Republic, have been train wrecks.”
It’s not that WOW is bad, some added; just that after 10 years of dessert, they’re ready for a new ice cream that still reminds them of their favorite flavor. Some said they planned to quit. Others said they would play on, waiting to see how the existing game develops.
“I don’t want WOW to die, but at the same time I really want a new MMORPG from Blizzard,” one wrote. “They make very good games and have always been the go-to-company for me when it comes to games.”
The odds that Blizzard will return to the MMO space anytime soon are slim: Morhaime said in the interview that he didn’t want Blizzard to be “the MMORPG company.” But that doesn’t mean the company won’t be supporting WOW. The new expansion November 13 is proof of that, and developers at last year’s Blizzcon confirmed plans for another expansion after that.
“Respect Blizzard for cancelling a game that was gonna suck”
Blizzard has a reputation in the gaming community for not wanting to release anything until it’s ready. Really, really ready. Soon™ carries the trademark symbol on the Blizzard forums.
They are Michelangelo in “The Agony and the Ecstasy,” where the Pope frequently cries to the Sistine Chapel ceiling, “When will you make an end?” and Michelangelo calls down, “When I am finished.”
In 1997, the company planned to release a comedic point-and-click adventure based on the Warcraft universe, called Warcraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans. It contracted out more than 20 minutes of animated sequences, and built out all the puzzles, a good chunk of the geography, even some of the voices.
They cancelled it.
When I visited Blizzard headquarters a decade ago, it was to play StarCraft: Ghost, their stealth/action game for PlayStation 2 and Xbox consoles based in the StarCraft universe.
I wasn’t there to talk about StarCraft: Ghost or to look at the art. I actually played it: a level of the single player, some of the multiplayer.
It wasn’t awe-inspiring, but it was as good as anything being released at the time, and it felt dangerously close to done.
They canned it.
Some players are quick to give Blizzard props for knowing when to walk away, even from a seven-year development project that might have rescued them from an aging game.
One typical player declared in a Warcraft Facebook group that she would “much rather them scrap the idea than have them come out with something crappy.”