Titan: Vaporware Forever

Posted by Stropp on May 29, 2013 I'm back! I finished my holiday road trip last Friday with 6750km and four major Aussie cities covered over 21 day period. The last couple days were fairly long, Friday was 10.5 hours on the road. So I need a vacation to recover! I haven't really looked at the game news much over that time, and over the last few days either. But todays news, that Blizzard is retooling their unannounced mystery MMO codenamed Titan; moving 70 of the 100 developers off the project and into other projects while the core team rethink the whole thing really got my attention. How long has Titan been under development now? I'm not really sure, and can't be bothered at the moment to look it up, but it must be somewhere in the vicinity of 5 years. My first thought was to wonder if Blizzard was trying to break the vaporware record set by 3DRealms ill-fated Duke Nukem Forever. Not only did DNF change direction several times, it failed to take into account changing attitudes towards women in games, as well as the way that FPS games have changed over the years. At this stage Blizzard's Titan can quite clearly be called vaporware. After five years of development we haven't seen one screenshot, one hint about the genre, or anything else substantive about the game. Even by this stage Duke Nukem Forever had teased us with screenshots, art, and a basic idea of what the game was about. Now with Titan making a big ol' U-turn it may be another few years before we get any information. There's no way we'll see anything at the next Blizzcon, and probably the Blizzcon after that. Those who are worried that Titan will be a WoW-Killer needn't be concerned. The WoW servers will be long shut down before this game sees the light of day.
  1. Green Armadillo Said,

    I haven’t checked the whole wide internets for you, but I mentioned the lack of info on Titan (we didn’t know the name Titan at that point) in my wrap-up of Blizzcon 2008.
    http://playervsdeveloper.blogspot.com/2008/10/blizzcon-wrap-up.html

    Also worth noting that EQ Next did a similar reboot, what, a year ago? Supposedly the team is happier with the new version.

    I disagree on your last comment unless you think Titan will never release, period. It takes something like 10,000 subscribers to pay the bills on a single server, and I’d assume some of those costs may go down as hardware improves and the game stays relatively the same. There are enough former WoW players out there who will be interested in the occasional nostalgia tour that I doubt we will see WoW discontinued in the foreseeable future.

  2. Stropp Said,

    Okay. So it has been around five years, at least under the Titan moniker.

    Actually, I suspect it may be that Titan never actually releases.

    There is Blizzard precedent for this view. There was a game called Warcraft Adventures that they worked on for a while, until it was cancelled and the concept morphed into World of Warcraft. Obviously, it’s a little different now since MMO’s weren’t widely known when WA was being developed, and Blizzard cancelled in order to divert development into WoW. (I did see WA mentioned somewhere today, which jogged my memory.)

    BTW, are you sure about those numbers? 10K subscribers is about USD150K. I wouldn’t think that the running costs of a single server cluster would be close to that. Perhaps the purchase cost. However, I haven’t ever costed a MMO server and I’m, not sure how a WoW server is architected, so I’m not exactly an authority. But still, seems a little high.

  3. Green Armadillo Said,

    The number comes from my possibly faulty memory of what SOE regarding the threshold for killing Vanguard (before its F2P relaunch). Bear in mind that it’s not just the hardware (which I’d imagine you’re renting, not owning), there’s bandwidth, electricity, some amount of network support staff to reboot the thing if it crashes, some minimal customer service related to making sure the studio gets paid, some amount of ecommerce infrastructure to collect said payments (including a cut for Visa/PayPal/or whomever), etc etc. Some of these costs may be reduced if you have multiple products (billing, server support personnel), but not eliminated. Then you have to pay taxes, and still come out at a net profit, assuming you’re not doing this as a fan service (Meridian 59 was in sort of this state for a while). .

    $150 K does not sound like a ton of money to me when you add all those up.

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