Here's a nice slap in the face to PC gamers waiting anxiously for Blizzard's next MMOG: the whole "Titan" project has been reset. Sound familiar? That's what happened to id Software's Doom 4, and now Blizzard is reportedly following the same path. Of course, Titan was never officially announced, so everything up to this point has been a bunch of "insider" yack anyway.
Like this report. Sources "familiar with the matter" claim that Blizzard has reviewed the Titan project and concluded that it needed huge design and technological changes in order to meet its high standards of quality. The company has reportedly reduced the Titan team down from 100 to 70 members, and assigned the other 30 to World of Warcraft, Blizzard All-Stars, the Diablo 3 expansion, cinematics and Battle.net. The current Titan team is essentially restarting from scratch, thus the MMO isn't expected to launch until 2016 at the earliest.
Unfortunately, there seems to be some truth this time, as Blizzard spokesman Shon Damron has verified the report.
"We’ve always had a highly iterative development process, and the unannounced MMO is no exception," he said. "We’ve come to a point where we need to make some large design and technology changes to the game. We’re using this opportunity to shift some of our resources to assist with other projects while the core team adapts our technology and tools to accommodate these new changes. Note that we haven’t announced any dates for the MMO."
The news arrives as rival studio Bethesda gears up to reveal a version of The Elder Scrolls Online at E3 2013 in a few weeks. Blizzard also still continues to bleed World of Warcraft subscribers, as the company saw a net loss of 1.3 million subscriptions in Q1 2013, or around 14 percent of the game's user base. Approximately 8.3 million subscribers are still active, which is indeed a healthy, revenue-generating number despite the loss.
"It’s important to note that the nature of online games has changed," said Activision Blizzard chief Bobby Kotick during the company's First Quarter 2013 Results Conference Call earlier this month. "And with the environment becoming far more competitive, especially with free-to-play games. To address this, we’re working to release new content more frequently to keep our players engaged longer and make it easier for lapsed players to come back into the game."
Talk of the next Blizzard MMO, codenamed Titan, has been in circulation since 2011 when it appeared on a leaked Blizzard release roadmap. Since then, a number of "insiders" and individuals "close to the matter" have offered glimpses into what the game will provide. The unannounced MMOG was expected to make an appearance later this year during BlizzCon 2013, and then hit retail in 2014 at the earliest.
Could Titan be Blizzard's first multi-platform title? We've already heard that the next-gen Xbox One and PlayStation 4 will be more free-to-play friendly, meaning that Blizzard could have changed gears and decided to support the consoles along with the PC. That's just a theory, of course.