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.