Titan Falls: Blizzard Cancels Its Next MMO

n.b. hasty Photoshop not real image pls thx

We’ve been hearing about Titan, the next trick up Blizzard’s immense sleeve, for many years now. Sci-fi-themed MMO with shooty stuff was the abiding but forever unconfirmed buzz, which did sound appealing, but perhaps such itches are being capably scratched by Planetside 2 on PC and Destiny on console.

That’s not the reason Blizzard have given for axing the seven-years-in-the-making project, though. The reason is “”We didn’t find the fun.”

We should probably bear in mind that, while they did acknowledge rumours it was on the cards, Titan was never officially announced, and no doubt if Blizzard had their way the wider world would still have no inkling of its existence. What they say about its cancellation is more than they’ve ever said it about before.

In the interview with Polygon in which all this came up, Blizzard boss Mike Morhaime elaborated that “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.” In retrospect, talk of delays and re-thinks somewhat heralded this some time ago.

Perhaps more telling than such speculation after the fact is his later comment, asking aloud “Are we the MMORPG company? We don’t want to identify ourselves with a particular genre. We just want to make great games every time.” Also, “I wouldn’t say no to ever doing an MMO again, but I can say that right now, that’s not where we want to be spending our time.”

He also references the potential onerousness of having to keep working on an MMO for years on end even after release, as has been the case with World of Warcraft, though claims that they’ll keep supporting WoW ‘forever’ if they can.

Morheim, as well as Chris Metzen, Blizzard’s senior vice president of story and franchise development, are clear that this wasn’t an easy decision, but they felt it best to cut losses than make something that wasn’t what they wanted to do, or that could “damage the relationship. Smash the trust” with their fans.

I can’t begin to imagine the sorts of costs involved when one of the world’s biggest studios cancels a project that’s been in development for seven years. If they really have cancelled it because it wasn’t what they wanted to do though, I can’t begrudge them that. Certainly better to choose that path than soullessly chase the money.

Metzen also suggests that, post-Hearthstone, there’s more appetite within Blizzard for smaller projects, rather than a titanic endeavour every time. “Maybe we can be what we want to be and inspire groups around the company to experiment, get creative, think outside the box and take chances on things that just might thrill people. Maybe they don’t have to be these colossal, summer blockbuster-type products.”

Fair enough once again. Hearthstone’s my favourite Blizzard offering in a long time, and much as it’s almost absurdly polished, there’s a craft and chutzpah to it that I’d love to see Blizzard apply to all sorts of unexpected endeavours.

Do read the full Polygon interview by the way, as it goes into more detail about the decision to kill off Titan, including why they don’t want to be U2. That’s definitely something we can agree on.

85 Comments

  1. pilouuuu says:

    MMOs should just die already!

    • w0bbl3r says:

      I don’t think they need to die. WoW needs to die. And MMO’s need a vast changearound. But they don’t need to die.
      Oh, and subscription-based MMO’s need to die, and so do free 2 play one’s. They should all have the same model as guild wars 2; you buy it, it’s yours. If they can afford to run a huge game like that, with all the content updates they do, for no extra cash than a few fairly useless microtransactions (I don’t even know what they do, I never looked at them), then any half successful company can do it.

    • xao says:

      Heavens yes. We wouldn’t want other people having fun at something we don’t enjoy, would we?

  2. FurryLippedSquid says:

    Wow.

    What a spectacular waste of money. If anyone has it to waste mind you…

    • Shuck says:

      It’s not unusual for games to be canceled during development. We don’t know how far along it was, but Blizzard has the resources to cancel finished games that don’t meet quality standards, something they’ve done before.

      • w0bbl3r says:

        Then why didn’t they cancel that stupid kung fu panda expansion?
        I only played a trial of WoW (because it’s garbage, and full of idiotic children using their parents credit cards, WITH their knowledge), but even I saw that for the ridiculous nonsense it really was.
        And my friends who play all say that the majority of people hate the kung fu hippy panda bullshit. But blizzard thought that was a great product

    • P.Funk says:

      You know in business thats part of the whole shebang. Every project is a risk, most of us think the risk is that it won’t sell enough to profit or break even, but the risk extends to the point of deciding to embark on it and spending money without knowing if it’ll ever come to anything.

      This of course isn’t atypical, its pretty normal. Military jets, pharmaceuticals, paint on canvas, all abound with unfinished projects.

      Is it a waste of time to explore a good idea even if it goes nowhere? Hopefully we can think with more open minds than a shareholder would in response to that question.

    • Rymdkejsaren says:

      Can you describe exactly how this was a waste of time? A lot of creative endeavours look good on paper but end up mediocre when executed. It if were released, then you are not wasting the time and money of a giant company, but of hundreds of thousands of people who buy the game in good faith that it will be up to Blizzards undeniably high standards.

    • RegisteredUser says:

      In cases like this or for example Duke Nukem Forever, I always wonder why they don’t just release the material they are going to delete anyhow into the wild.
      I mean what is there to protect IP-wise if you are indeed truly scrapping? (Granted, in Duke’s case they scrapped because they liked wasting time and money, but in various cases things just stop there. Still would have liked to see that one midpoint Duke game..)

      I am sure whoever is out there looking to make games will either learn a ton from the source and materials or simply get a kind of design quality in art assets they otherwise would never get their hands on.
      Of course that might mean uneveness if they do something with it and can’t stand up to it, but modding over the last 20 years has shown me to never ever underestimate what people can do with materials provided.

      • solidsquid says:

        They’re not actually likely to just delete all the assets, more likely they’ll use them in another project instead. Plus, just because it’s been on the books for 7 years, doesn’t mean the project has actually hit the development cycle. It’s possible it was a side project for a long time which was being lined up as their next big one after Starcraft, but was mostly just pre-production work

  3. Wulfram says:

    They have to be careful with their next MMO because it’d probably signal the beginning of the end for WoW. If it then turned out to be mediocre, they’d have killed the goose that lays the golden eggs – or at least wounded it.

    • Rizlar says:

      Yep. If ‘WoW 2’ turned out to be anything other than mind-splattering fantastic it would put a big dent in Blizzard’s reputation. To be honest, if it wasn’t up to their standards it seems right to cancel.

      Speculation: it was going to be Worlds of Starcraft. But with big battles. In space.

      • Dances to Podcasts says:

        One of the few things known about it is that it was not an existing ip.

    • Shuck says:

      Yeah, which is why this doesn’t surprise me. They would have had to release the game once WoW had declined sufficiently (and probably turned into a free-to-play game), but who knows how long it will be until that happens? Most likely whatever game they built would be somewhat outdated by the time it was actually released.

    • Hydraulic Meerkat says:

      WoW has been losing subs steadily for a long time, and it’s only increased since Pandaria. Everyone i hear is also underwhelmed by the next expansion. Wow is already circling the drain.

      Probably going to forget about MMOs for awhile and focus on single player and cellphone games.

      • Stupoider says:

        Actually, WoW’s subs peaked at the end of WotLK/start of Cataclysm and have been downhill since. WoW has lost more subs during Pandaria than it did in Cataclysm and its current subscriber count is half of what it was at its peak. There’s nothing to suggest that future expansions are going to finish with a higher subscriber count than they had at the beginning. Product life-cycle ‘n’ all.

  4. draglikepull says:

    While the cancelling of Titan is indeed interesting, the bit that stands out most to me is the implication that they’re not planning on developing any more MMOs (at least for now). That’s a pretty big decision, especially when most other game publishers have spent the past decade chasing World of Warcraft.

    • Rizlar says:

      “That’s a pretty big decision, especially when most other game publishers have spent the past decade chasing World of Warcraft.”

      And seeing how they were received (especially stuff like Wildstar, which seems so closely catered to the WoW audience) may have convinced them it wasn’t as simple as just doing the same stuff again. The boundaries of multiplayer gaming keep expanding, the next big budget MMO to really blow minds will have to do something pretty special. It sounds like Titan was missing that rare and special something required to stand out.

      • Smashbox says:

        I really think the prescription for a TRUE next-gen MMO has to be heavy heavy simulationism.

        Take what’s good about EVE, make it fun, add a dash of Dwarf Fortress, let people feel powerful, allow for persistent changes to be made by players.

        It sounds expensive.

        • keithzg says:

          Minecraft has shown you can do big, world-simulate-y things in a style that doesn’t take much development resources and have people be entirely okay with that.

          Although just EVE with the space combat not being INSANELY BORING would immediately have my attention. Also, really sad that Shadowbane didn’t really work out once it went public; having a big fantasy world where apart from the starting area everything was player built and run is kindof the dream in terms of fantasy games, and I think it’s also the only way to compete with an experience like WoW, ie. really don’t compete at all.

      • Smoky_the_Bear says:

        Honestly 7 years just seems too long in my eyes. The stuff that would have been cutting edge and relevant when they started it just no longer is. It’s the cycle that Duke Nukem Forever got itself into. By the time the game got anywhere near finished it was way behind what was being released, so they changed engine and attempted to make it up-to-date, again by the time this was done, it was once again no longer cutting edge.

        I’m surprised it took them this long to pull the plug to be honest. 7 years and no official announcement, and you can usually expect AT LEAST a year after official announcement for a big AAA game to be released (they announced WoW 3 years before the actual release, for example). I’m guessing that they’ve had a bare-bones team working on this for a while now. Next-gen stuff like Destiny coming out was probably just the final nail in the coffin when they realised what they had was behind what other companies were doing.

        • P.Funk says:

          Lets bear in mind that we have no idea how much work was being done at any stage of those 7 years. If they were floundering around a lack of passion or direction or certainty then its easy to think that what happened in most of that time was pretty preliminary. Is there even any notion of how much actual coding was done? For all we know they took it slow and reassessed the development as time wore on to a newer level of technology. Its clear they felt no real sense of urgency so its not like they’d have been grinding out models and code.

          If there is any more concrete info beyond rumour on what was actually done I’d love to read about it.

  5. Biscuitry says:

    “We didn’t find the fun.”

    This is perhaps the best reason not to release a game, at least from a player’s perspective. How many games have you played or seen played where what sounds like a great concept on paper just gets bogged down by tedium and frustration? More than a few, I’d think.

    The reality is that not many studios can afford to do this. But it’s always been one of Blizzard’s tricks, and it’s good to see they’re still doing it.

    • FurryLippedSquid says:

      A fine example for me, is Kingdoms of Amalur.

      Goodness knows what John saw in that game.

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        It was fun for a lot of people, myself included. Can’t say much more than that.

      • Molay says:

        I actually found it quite entertaining too. It was no Messiah announcing a new era of gaming, that is true, but I had my share of fun with it. It did well what it did, I think.

      • HadToLogin says:

        I found it more fun than Skyrim. Same boring quests, same intriguing world to explore, but KoA has better fighting.

    • mvar says:

      I doubt the executives who cancelled the project stated in their papers and/or emails that they didn’t find the fun..Maybe in some small/indie studio, but I don’t see this happening in huge corporations like Blizzard. I guess this has to do with WoW or Eve’s domination in the scifi MMO. Either case the bar is quite high

      • welverin says:

        No, they wouldn’t explain it that way to the executives, but that also doesn’t make it untrue. If the game isn’t fun, people aren’t going to buy it and they certainly won’t continue to spend money on it (whether through subscriptions or in game items depending on the model they went with).

      • SuddenSight says:

        They probably wouldn’t write “the game isn’t fun” in their executive emails, but they probably would use phrases like “poor player engagement” and “lack of market competitive gameplay features.” Which is corporate-speak for “fun” (or at least the corporate facsimile of fun).

    • gnodab says:

      I agree. Best reason to can a project.
      And the best reason to get excited about Blizzard again! Imagine what they could do if they’d truly focus on a truly single player game! Maybe a WC4 or even better a new IP? I am still waiting for my Sci-Fi ARPG. MAybe Blizzard can repurpose some of the assets?
      Harbinger can’t still be the only playable game in the genre.

    • Josh W says:

      Yeah I agree, “wasting” effort on exploring game ideas to see if they are interesting is incredibly valuable. The fact that they can cancel a game today means that they can try out another game tomorrow, and start fiddling with it without knowing that it will be fun in some established way. Instead of trying to worriedly sequence jump the design process, you can actually let it happen.

  6. Smashbox says:

    Ok ok – here’s my hyperbolic headline!

    Dota kills MMO industry

  7. Smashbox says:

    Also, can we have Warcraft 4 yet?

    • Zorlan says:

      A thousand times this.

      Get on with it!! You have the people, scrap that shitfest that is the moba HoS and get to work on a proper WarCraft sequel!!

      • Smoky_the_Bear says:

        I would think unlikely until Legacy of the Void has been out for a while. Potentially they might shift a portion of their Starcraft 2 team over to a new project, which could be Warcraft 4, seeing how they have good RTS experience and will no longer be needed as much on Starcraft.

    • Nova says:

      Yes! All of a sudden that is at least a possibility again.

    • Jeroen D Stout says:

      It strikes me a little that in the current market for RTS, releasing a new Warcraft would cannibalise the market for Starcraft 2; especially where e-sports is concerned.

      (This comment does come dangerously close to just saying “that e-sport $$$”)

  8. BooleanBob says:

    “We didn’t find the fun.”

    Didn’t stop them from releasing – ah, whaddaya mean, ‘that’s a cheap shot’?

    • FurryLippedSquid says:

      Have they ever released anything bad?

      • Zorlan says:

        Diablo 3

        • FurryLippedSquid says:

          Popular opinion would suggest otherwise.

          • Valkyr says:

            Popular opinion is not the best of critics either

          • FurryLippedSquid says:

            In it’s demographic? It is.

          • derbefrier says:

            no ones asking for a critic and its irreverent. lots of people like and play D3. Its a success by every measurable sense of the word. good sales, good player retention( lots of people were won over by the expansion, me being one of them and pretty much everyone i know who gave it shot), good updates, and a reasonably happy fanbase.
            whiile it could have been better it is in no way an objectively bad game its just different than what was expected. Once you get over that a lot of fun can be had.

          • Bull0 says:

            He was giving you *his* opinion, not “popular opinion” (and besides, I doubt you hold popular opinion in so laughably high regard when it’s disagreeing with you)

        • Arathain says:

          I’m loving Diablo 3. Still playing it. It was merely a good game with some problems when it launched. Now it’s a great one.

        • SominiTheCommenter says:

          Fiend! You uttered a forbidden word and haven’t been banned!
          What about p00p, is it still b&?

          Post-Banning: Yup, can’t spell the lighter version of shit.

      • Grygus says:

        Apparently yes, but they do not release them. Good move.

  9. Distec says:

    I think they realized “WoW 2” wasn’t going to cut it any more. As is the case with much of their competition, people will stick with WoW if that’s the kind of game they want to play. I know that a few months in SWTOR generated enough nostalgia and convinced me to resub with Blizzard. Amazing, eh?

    Open, sandbox-y MMOs seem like they’re becoming a small craze, judging by some of the current and upcoming releases; games that rely more heavily on other players for their “content”. I would love to see Blizzard apply their skills and polish to that kind of experience. But WoW seemed to had found its greatest success in eradicating so much of that interaction, I would have been surprised if their next MMO would have strayed too much from formula. It’s not like any of their products ever have.

    Doubt it had much to do with “fun” potential.

  10. Rao Dao Zao says:

    More likely they’ve realised you can make bags o’ cash off little F2P titles for a fraction of the effort. Maybe not as “much money” overall, but certainly bigger profit margins.

    Anyway, I would rather they hurry up and finish making Starcraft 2 (I want story closure, that’s all :<).

  11. SominiTheCommenter says:

    The real scene in Blizzard’s office

    Blizzard Dude #1: We are thinking of developing a sci-fi MMO shooter and shit.
    Bobby Kotick: We bought Bungie for that! CAN IT!
    Blizzard Dude #1: But…but…We’re developing it for 7 years!
    Bobby Kotick: CAN IT!

    • fiendling says:

      Spot on!

      That is, almost certainly, what really happened.

  12. funkstar says:

    this isn’t the first time they’ve done this… starcraft:ghost?

    I agree with biscuitry, this is the best reason not to release a game

    • Velthaertirden says:

      Not even the second time. Warcraft Adventures. And Warcraft 3 was going to be more on RPG side than it turned out eventually, also had 6 races instead of 4 at one point.

      • Shuck says:

        And those are just the games that were basically finished. There were plenty more games in various states of development that got canned before too many resources were put into them.

      • Lanfranc says:

        Oh man, Warcraft Adventures. I’m still kinda sad about that one. :(

    • Koozer says:

      I was really looking forward to playing Ghost on my Gamecube. :(

      • keithzg says:

        Instead you played . . . ummm . . . Mario Sunshine? That Warren Spector game about possessing people that was kindof flawed but ultimately good enough it would have greatly benefited from being on PC rather than the GameCube? Smash Bros Scuffle?

        …yeah, I think that’s the entire roster of GameCube games, as far as I remember.

        • Volcanu says:

          Now hold on a wee minute there laddie! The GameCube may not have had the biggest library of games but it had some fantastic ones I’ll have you know!

          Metroid Prime 1 & 2 (widely lauded and very interesting)
          Eternal Darkness
          Resident Evil 4 (a GC exclusive until Capcom backtracked and brought it to other platforms)
          F-Zero GX (the greatest ever futuristic racer)
          Zelda: Twilight Princess
          Zelda:Wind Waker
          Rogue Squadron II (the last good Star Wars spaceship game, and probably the last one to ‘feel’ like Star Wars)
          Resident Evil 1 HD remake (yes, this counts!)
          Timesplitters 2 (one of the last hurrahs of split-screen multiplayer in the Goldeneye mould)

  13. kwyjibo says:

    WoW still has ~7M subscribers and is about to release a massive expansion. It’s a lot safer evergreening this cash cow than in creating another one. There’s only a subset of the player base who will pay a subscription, and they’re mostly paying for WoW, no one has come close.

    • SPCTRE says:

      Yeah, cannibalization effects vis-a-vis WoW always were what made the whole project seem doubtful to me at best.

    • HadToLogin says:

      That’s where they “couldn’t find the fun”. Either Titan would kill WoW or WoW wouldn’t let Titan flourish. So they let WoW win without a fight.
      And let’s not forget Bundie is supposed to make 3 games for Activision, which I’m pretty sure means Destiny 2 and Destiny 3 – so it’s double cannibalization.

  14. amateurviking says:

    Suspect hearthstone really turned their heads in terms of what’s feasible on a smaller scale when you have a critical mass of excellent talent, vast resources and unco good art assets floating around.

  15. kdz says:

    Whoah. I sure wouldn’t want to be in the shoes of anyone who worked on this for at least some time. Must suck to have a project like this cancelled.

    On the other hand, hell yeah to the idea of Blizzard making “smaller” games! Hearthstone is great and easily expandable, I wouldn’t mind seeing more offerings from them.

    That said… WarCraft IV, please :<

  16. malkav11 says:

    Titan might have turned out cool, but frankly, the fewer MMOs competing for my time the better, and smaller games released more frequently sounds like a great move for Blizzard…even if it also seems like a total 180 for their corporate culture. I just hope they don’t decide “yeah, we’re not the MMO company…we’re the MOBA company”. Heroes of the Storm sounds like it might come the closest to being interesting to me, but I still strongly doubt any MOBA will ever actually be enjoyable.

    • keithzg says:

      I’m just annoyed it took MOBAs to have team multiplayer be a major “e-sports” thing. I mean, the most popular sports in real life are team sports, and I personally find them generally more fun to play and watch, but MOBAs just really don’t interest me at all beyond the team aspect of them. Hopefully their success will spur on games companies to put more emphasis on their team multiplayer offerings instead of 1v1 (which for Starcraft II, for example, is definitely the most boring way to play).

  17. Dances to Podcasts says:

    Their newer games have still been entries in existing genres using existing ips. Let’s hope they use this new fresh attitude to make something actually new.

  18. DarkFarmer says:

    looks like blizzard is titaning up the number of project teams they have

  19. Shooop says:

    Odd considering no one can find the fun in World Of Warcraft either.

  20. Xzi says:

    So much for Blizzard having any sort of quality product to show for this many years of development. Diablo 3 blows and their F2P games are exactly F2P quality.

    • Hydraulic Meerkat says:

      They simply got lucky making the first half decent MMO. Blizzard was never extremely talented or innovative outside of that.

  21. satan says:

    I don’t know why they’d outright cancel it, just put it on ice for a decade or two instead, no matter what Blizz puts out expectations are going to be huge, why try and fight it?

  22. Noxman says:

    Cancels long-in-development MMORPG, announces free to play MOBA a week later.

    Oh wait, we already have that…… World of plan… no… Stuff it: Heroes of the Swarm.

  23. Tekrunner says:

    It appears that making MMO shooters is really not that easy. Tabula Rasa didn’t last very long, Defiance is just about surviving, Firefall seems to be doing ok for now but isn’t exactly a roaring success either. It’s sad really, because I quite enjoy that genre. Maybe Gearbox could pull it off if they made a Borderlands MMO? I doubt they’re really interested in that sort of commitment though.

    And no, I won’t play Planetside 2. PvP-only does not do it for me.

  24. Erithtotl says:

    “We didn’t find the fun”

    Funny, that was my impression of WoW when I tried it as well.

  25. Gyro says:

    2011: “It’s a total ball to play!”
    2014: “We couldn’t find the fun.”

    I guess they *sunglasses* took their eye off the ball.