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Is Blizzard’s Project Titan Doomed Before Release?

/ Feb 5th, 2013 3 Comments

Activision Blizzard
Activision Blizzard

Activision Blizzard

While details about the next Blizzard massive multiplayer online game, Project Titan, are hidden away under lock and key, there is much to speculate about, given the current landscape of the newer MMOs on the market and the highly competitive free to play model. Blizzard has quite a few hurdles to clear if they want Project Titan to come out in first place. Not only is World of Warcraft going to determine its success, but the way a MMO plays today is much different than when Blizzard took center stage with WoW.

With the release of World of Warcraft in 2004, Blizzard truly defined the MMO genre and started a never-before-seen movement into online gaming. Ever since then, MMOs have risen and fallen faster than they have been conceptualized. Big MMOs like Mythic Entertainment‘s Warhammer Online, Bioware‘s Star Wars: The Old Republic, NC Soft‘s Aion or Trion WorldsRift have all attempted to gain influence in the MMO gaming sphere but were met with differing results. This is attributed to the fact that WoW really is on a different level than the others. Every time an MMO comes out it will always be compared or judged through the lens of Warcraft.

So the first obstacle for Project Titan to clear is having to compete with its own monolithic brother. Blizzard is well aware of this predicament and despite stating that the two are going to be completely different experiences, being able to peacefully coexist with one another seems to be a bit of a reach. Those who play WoW have tons invested into the game. Whether it be the mounds of achievements, titles, or heroic 25 man geared loot, gamers work hard at their characters and love them. Asking those people to abandon their community and characters for unproven pastures is not going to happen overnight. Even though there is a dwindling subscription base and Mists of Pandaria‘s initial sales were lower than sales for the Cataclysm expansion, it is still going strong. With 10 million or more subscribers still adventuring around Azeroth, it will be nigh impossible to pull the “financial viability” card to shut down servers so that the migration to the next MMO is a natural progression.

Aside from WoW, this is a highly saturated market. Not including the big release titles from the previously mentioned companies, there is also an endless sea of free to play MMOs available with just a little searching. From Dungeon Fighter Online to Maple Story or Lord Of The Rings, there is a wide range of audiences that these games appeal to in the MMO space. And the key factor here, as the name implies, is that they do not rely on a subscription base. Gamers are now accustomed to this style of playing, so reverting back to a monthly fee is going to be a bitter pill to swallow. Project Titan is undoubtedly (and rightfully so) demanding an immense budget to get the game off the runway so a monthly fee seems inevitable. However, a highly polished game like Guild Wars 2 requires no further investment so it is worth Blizzard’s time to look into that possible avenue.

To help Blizzard, there are two things that would be good to see in Project Titan. First off, is that the graphics engine should be a leap ahead of what is being done today. Although the tech demonstration of the Unreal Engine 4 would be a nice target to shoot for, it definitely will not happen given Blizzard’s appeal to gamers of all budgets. However, it would be nice for Blizzard to push the game to be a cut above all others out on the market. Battlefield 3 graphics versus Call of Duty graphics would be a good start. If the game looks too similar to WoW from a graphical standpoint, it won’t be a good move and won’t sell the idea of co-existing brother MMOs.

Next off, these games are community driven and about social interaction with one another. Warcraft’s servers are really there to alleviate queue times or lag. Players can PvP (player vs. player) and do endgame/raiding with those on different servers. Nobody really knows who is who anymore let alone care since there is a good chance that those players will not be seen again. While this was done for the sake of not depriving gamers from experiencing content, it certainly does create a disconnect in a supposedly connected world. To bring back meaningful relations, closed servers would be a good start towards this. By altering the gameplay so that the gamers would not be crippled if they needed to rely on other people, i.e. Faction Battleground PvP, the queue time issue can be fixed. Even stat buffing or perks associated with playing with the same (smaller or individual) people could be a possible avenue.

In the end, whenever or if ever the next Blizzard MMO does come to fruition, it is going to sell like hot cakes and gamers everywhere will wait in endless server queues to enter the world. If they carry on the addicting and enjoyable gameplay experience that is WoW, while bringing fresh concepts or interactions to the table then, of course Project Titan is going to thrive. Yet if this product has to compete with its own brother for subscribers and is once again set in a fantasy world with the same gameplay structure, Project Titan might not reach the heights or expectations a Blizzard game comes with. If everything going against Project Titan does occur, it might fall into the category of the infamous vaporware Starcraft: Ghost: under development but never cancelled.

Mark Gonzales

Mark Gonzales

Contributor at Gaming Illustrated
Mark is a contributor to Gaming Illustrated and part of the editorial team. He always has had an intense love for gaming and of the spoken word. During conversations, he is known to create elaborate anecdotal references to popular 90's phrases with varying levels of success.
Mark Gonzales
Mark Gonzales

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  • Mike

    I don’t think subscription fees and competition from WoW will be as big a problem as you indicate in your article. I think that blizzard will simply give a free WoW sub to anyone who buys Titan. Essentially turning the WoW subscription into a battle.net subscription. I also think they will do another promotion like the annual subscription package like what they ran for Diablo 3 that ties Titan and WoW subs together.

    On the engine I expect it to have higher capabilities as far as effects and such go but I expect blizzard to keep it reasonable in terms of system requirements to sell to the largest number of customers possible. Expect stylized artwork to make it unique looking but don’t expect photo-real or anything of that sort (all my speculation).

  • Mark Gonzales

    Having a battle.net monthly fee instead of subscription to a specific game would be an interesting option for gamers. The only issue I see there is that both games are going to command quite the budget to keep operations up, and having the same audience pay for both games would be challenging. Now, adding tiers of “access” might be something they would do.

    Pretty much sums up my thoughts on the graphics. A gamer can dream right? haha.

  • Robert Kavanagh

    We all know that Blizzard will “compete” with free to play by having a monthly subscription. That being said, I am sure millions will play it. At this point, Blizzard is capable of producing any game and making an excellent profit on it, regardless of it being groundbreaking or high quality. Setting aside the success of World of Warcraft and other titles past, Blizzard has only re-released more of the same. I hope they come out with something soon that doesn’t feel like I’ve already spent years playing it.

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