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Everything we knew about Blizzard's canceled MMO, Titan

And it's not very much.

Blizzard just canceled Titan, the company's mysterious never-quite-fully-announced massively multiplayer online role-playing game.

The game's seven-year development cycle, kept secretive for the most part, was filled with teases and overturns, reboots and long periods of silence. And as of today, it looks like that silence may be permanent. The last we heard of the MMO, the team was whittled down to 30 people who were redesigning the entire project from scratch. But how did it get here?

The rise...

In 2007, Blizzard posted job listings looking for character and environment artists to work on a secret new "Next-Gen MMO." Speculation about the title on the Blizzard forums led to a company representative noting that this unannounced project was not a World of Warcraft expansion.

The following year, during Blizzcon 2008, Blizzard CEO and co-founder Mike Morhaime confirmed the project was an entirely new game unrelated to WoW that would be "different" from the company's slate of offerings.

"We're not trying to replace World of Warcraft with this new MMO," Morhaime told Wired at the time. "We're trying to create a different massively multiplayer experience, and hopefully World of Warcraft will still be going strong when that one is released."

In February 2009, World of Warcraft director Jeffrey Kaplan announced that he had moved over to the unannounced MMO project. In an interview with MTV Multiplayer, Kaplan suggested the game would be a combination of "sci-fi, near-future, post-apocalyptic and historical" influences.

That May, Blizzard reiterated that the unannounced MMO was a brand new IP and development was underway, although there was nothing to show at the time because it was just a "shell of a game." During the Deutsche Bank Securities Technology Conference in September, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick stated that the unannounced MMO would have "a little more broad appeal" than World of Warcraft.

"We're not trying to replace World of Warcraft with this new MMO."

News on Titan went quiet for almost a year. Then, in November 2010, an alleged project schedule for the game leaked through a Chinese MMO website. The schedule listed Titan with a launch window in the fourth quarter of 2013. Shortly after the leak, Blizzard China's general manager Ye Weilun was either fired or resigned from his position. At the Spike Video Game Awards the following month, Blizzard co-founder Frank Pearce confirmed to Destructoid that the unannounced game was called Titan and that the studio was looking at it as a recruitment tool for the company.

During a panel at the DICE Summit in February 2011, Morhaime said Blizzard had placed its most experienced MMO developers on Titan, using what they learned developing World of Warcraft to pave the way. Morhaime also said that, despite being somewhat of a direct competitor to WoW, the company's long-standing title and newcomer Titan would be able to co-exist within the MMO market.

"We're really trying to leverage all the lessons we learned through the years," he said, as reported by Ars Technica. "Some of which we were able to address in World of Warcraft and others that maybe because of the design decisions we've made, you just can't address. So we're kind of taking a step back with all that knowledge to make something that's completely new and fresh. We're not trying to make a WoW sequel."

The following month, Blizzard chief operating officer Paul Sams told VentureBeat that Titan was being developed by a "dream team" and that the game would "blow people's minds." That same month, Sams told Gamasutra that Blizzard had long-term plans for Titan spanning "10, 15 and 20 years."

"We're playing it already. It is a total ball to play."

"We're very confident in that product," Sams said. "It's an awesome one. We're playing it already. It is a total ball to play. We think that the reach of that product is greater than anything that we've done before. We're very excited about that. I believe that it's the type of game that will have a very long life, much like World of Warcraft has."

Blizzard revealed that development was fully underway on Titan in September 2012, with then-vice president of game design Rob Pardo stating in an interview with Curse that the team working on the game had grown to over 100 people. Pardo also noted that there was still a long way to go before Titan was a presentable state to show publicly.

...and fall

Again, things went silent on Titan. But in May 2013, VentureBeat reported that Blizzard was completely rebooting the game and had moved 70 percent of the game's team onto other projects. Titan was now expected to launch no earlier than 2016. Just 30 staffers remained on Titan and were working to implement "large design and technology changes" to the game.

"We've always had a highly iterative development process, and the unannounced MMO is no exception," a Blizzard spokesperson told Polygon at the time. "We've come to a point where we need to make some large design and technology changes to the game. We're using this opportunity to shift some of our resources to assist with other projects while the core team adapts our technology and tools to accommodate these new changes. Note that we haven't announced any dates for the MMO."

"We've come to a point where we need to make some large design and technology changes to the game."

During an Activision-Blizzard investor call in August 2013, Morhaime said Blizzard was overhauling Titan's direction, and that it was "unlikely to be a subscription-based" title like World of Warcraft.

"We're in the process of selecting a new direction for the project and re-envisioning what we want the game to be," Morhaime said. "While we can't talk about the details yet, it is unlikely to be a subscription-based MMORPG."

At the time Morhaime, reiterated that Blizzard had never officially announced Titan to the public. That same month, Blizzard removed all mention of Titan from its careers page.

The last we've heard of Titan came during Blizzcon in November 2013. Morhaime told Polygon that there was "a lot" of salvageable content from the Titan reboot and that studio was working hard "changing a bunch of things."

"I think we've been pretty transparent about the thought process there," he said. "We did an evaluation of our technology, the platform that we were building for the game. We realized it wasn't going to do what we needed it to do without some significant changes. We just used that as an opportunity to take a step back, look at the game and ask hard questions: 'If we were going to start something new, what would we make? Would we make this? Make something different?'"

Today, less than two months before Blizzcon 2014, Blizzard has canceled Titan, a game that will forever be trapped in the "what if?" world of gaming limbo.

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