Sources spill beans on Project Titan, analysts feel cancellation cost Blizzard $50m

By Stephany Nunneley, Wednesday, 24 September 2014 18:44 GMT

Someone has spilled the beans to Kotaku regarding what exactly Blizzard’s now cancelled MMORPG Project Titan was and how it was to be played. Meanwhile, analysts predict the cancellation could have cost Activision-Blizzard in upwards of $50 million.

According to ex-Blizzard employees speaking anonymously to the site, the sci-fi MMO took place on a near-future version Earth and allowed players to choose between non-combat and combat-centric professions.

While the report notes many things changed over the course of development between 2007 and 2012, the premise was that mankind had “successfully fought off an alien invasion,” and the end result was a raging war among three factions.

Each wants control of the planet and battle zones spanned the west coast of the US and over into Australia, Europe and South America. New areas would have been added over the years through expansions.

Players in the game would maintain a profession during daytime hours and fight opposing factions once they clocked out. Daytime jobs noted in the article included being a butcher, engineer, mechanic, or business owner. The game also had both a “real world” and a “shadow world.”

When in the real-world, players would work their day jobs, craft, socialize and do other normal day-to-day things. When the “shadow world” was entered, players would participate in death-match missions, battles, and shooter scenarios such as capture the flag.

Classes were Juggernaut, Jumper, Ranger, Reaper and Titan. Obviously, each class contained its own set of abilities and specialization items. Players could also switch between first and third-person view based on whether they were in or out of combat.

Cities in the game would act like “living worlds, full of businesses, shops, and NPCs”, and various city actions would occur depending upon the time of day. It was even said that players would be recognized by NPCs based on prior interactions such as whether you frequented a particular shop quite often.

Sources speaking with Kotaku compared various mechanics to Team Fortress, Team Fortress 2, and that in-game cinematics were a cross between StarCraft 2 and Pixar’s The Incredibles.

It was revealed yesterday that Project Titan was no longer in development, and while never ‘officially’ announced, Blizzard acknowledged last year the game would no longer release as an MMO as it was being “re-envisioned.”

With a game being in development for seven years, it’s only logical to assume creation costs started to pile up.

Independent analyst Billy Pidgeon told GI International the cancellation of such an ambitious project could have cost Blizzard around the $50 million mark.

“Development costs for Titan may have amounted to tens of millions, perhaps $50 million or more,” he said. “This is not an unusual event, however. Blizzard has cancelled several games in various stages of development in the past.

“Costs for unreleased games can be significant, but launching substandard games can harm the reputation of a successful publisher such as Blizzard. Expenses for development can be considered R&D, and benefits can include invaluable training, IP and technology that can be applied to other games.”

Wedbush Securities’ Michael Pachter suggested the amount could have soared even higher: up to $140 million.

“My guess is 100-200 people at $100,000 per year, so $70-140 million sunk cost,” he said. “It’s pretty sad that it took so long to figure out how bad the game was. I expect them to go back to the drawing board.”

All analysts GI spoke with agreed it a smart move in the end for Blizzard considering the market shift in MMOs.

“They realized that unless a big MMO is out-of-this-world unbelievable it won’t work in today’s market where it competes against a bunch of low cost options,” offered DFC Intelligence’s David Cole. “If they felt that it just wasn’t getting to that point it makes sense to cut your losses.

“Also, you see games like League of Legends and their own Hearthstone which are doing very well on a much lower budget. The market is just not in a place where you can have games with 7+ year development. It is changing too fast.”

Yesterday, after the news broke about Titan’s cancellation, stock in Activision Blizzard was down 1.7% to $21.33, but as of today, it is down by 0.14% by to $21.25 per share. This type of occurrence is normal though, as the market fluctuates hourly.

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