Many fans of Blizzard’s Overwatch may not know that the game was created by utilizing the assets of Titan, a game that was meant to be the next big MMO title for the company, but failed spectacularly in its development. Mike Morhaime, the founder of Blizzard who only recently left the organization, states that Blizzard cancels about 50% of all games that it develops.
Titan was planned to be a“next-generation MMO” but ended up being too ambitious. The scope of the project grew to such a point that, in the end, its main components felt entirely disconnected from one another rather than part of the same game.
Jeff Kaplan, now known as the face of the developer updates for Overwatch, worked on Titan firsthand. His description of the experiences parallels those same points made by Morhaime, stating “We failed horrifically in every way [...] In every way that a project can fail. It was devastating.”
This is saying a lot. As far as World of Warcraft goes, it may be the single most successful MMOs in history. During its most popular periods, new MMOs releases would always be compared to Warcraft and either touted as the one that would finally being Blizzard to its knees, or at least be good competition, only for nothing to change.
While now there now plenty of MMOs to choose from, tasking Blizzard to create a new MMO in 2014 while making it distinct from their other wildly successful game would have been a huge challenge. To state that they "failed horrifically" is likely a good thing, as it means that the team was working well outside of what we considered standard in an MMO five years ago, and from that failure came a fun team shooter.
Ultimately, Titan folded because, as Morhaime describes, they simply “didn't find the fun [...] didn't find the passion.”
Far better to make that discovery while in early development than during a launch.
While Titan was cancelled in 2014, the last official recorded game cancellation by Blizzard was Starcraft: Ghost in 2005. Before that was Nomad in 1999 and Warcraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans in 1998.
Still, while Blizzard cancelled Titan, there is no reason to believe that they permanently shelved the idea of a new and groundbreaking MMO. World of Warcraft is not going to be around forever, or so we think, and having the next game in some early conceptual form is more than likely a reality.
Now if only we could get a thorough explanation on how Diablo Immortal made it through its design and into formal development, despite the fans clearly wanting a proper sequel. That would be an interesting read to be sure.