Blizzard Entertainment has officially cancelled Titan, its seven-year long MMO project that the company hoped would take the genre beyond its most popular title, World of Warcraft. The announcement comes after last year's announcement that Blizzard would re-evaluate the Titan project. According to a Polygon interview with CEO, Mike Morhaime and VP of development, Chris Metzen, the decision to cancel was "excruciating" but the right move for the developer's future."We didn't find the fun," Morhaime states. "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."
From what Morhaime and Metzen say in the interview, it seems that the decision to cut Blizzard's losses was based as much on its own need to re-define its market presence. "We don't want to identify ourselves with a particular genre," states Morhaime, "We just want to make great games every time."
Part of this identity crisis and need to re-evaluate Blizzard's development strategy may have resulted from the popularity of MMO-esq games like Destiny and Titanfall. Constant online-status-to-play is one major difference between these games and their first-person predecessors like Halo. The success of such multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game types is probably due in part to how they leverage the appeal of MMO "grinding" and online team battles. Developers with MMO portfolios, like Blizzard, may be feeling the pressure to divert more creative sources in this same direction. Blizzard's other anticipated game, Heroes of the Storm is a step in that direction. It's a "team brawler" with an ensemble cast of WOW and StarCraft heroes battling it out in online teams.
Blizzard's Hearthstone is also an immensely popular strategy card game that suggests the company is investing in developing other game types. However, Metzen's comments also suggest that Blizzard is taking a hard look at protecting themselves from developing popular game types just for the financial sake of it.
"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, Metzen states, "Maybe they don't have to be these colossal summer blockbuster-type products."
Certainly the popularity and success of independent, small start ups like Minecraft support Metzen's conclusions. His statements also sum up a growing trend among game dev's today: innovation that is attractive to consumers comes not from the reboot of a game but in developing completely different game types altogether. Titan may have fallen too much into the category of variation-on-the-same-theme for the Blizzard team to find it either personally inspiring or financially profitable.