Tobold's Blog
Friday, December 17, 2010
Blizzard's next MMO codenamed "Strawberry"

Actually it is not "Strawberry", but "Titan". But if you look at it objectively, Blizzard confirming that the code-name for their new MMO project is "Titan" is pretty much a non-event. "Strawberry" would have given exactly the same information, which is none. It is not even the name of the final game, just the name of the project. The game will most probably have a less generic name, as the term Titan is already overused.

Much of the excitement over the official Titan confirmation comes from the fact that the name was leaked as part of a Blizzard production schedule, and that some people now believe that if the leak got the name right, the rest of the information must be true as well. That would mean the next WoW expansion in 18 months, and the new Titan MMO in 2013.

I would be very careful with that sort of jump to conclusions. Even if the leaked schedule is real, Blizzard is not exactly known for sticking to schedules. Basically in the best case I'd consider that as a penciled schedule, which in all likelyhood will be much delayed in reality. Note that Blizzard already after the first expansion said they would work towards releasing expansions once a year, but still got their third expansion out only after 6 years. So my money is on the next WoW expansion end of 2012, and "Strawberry" being released in 2014 or 2015.
I think you hit the nail on the head.

I totally believe that is the legitimate internal release schedule from Blizzard. But I highly, highly doubt Blizzard has ever successfully predicted the release date of their own products more than a year in advance.

It's off topic, but Blizzard pushing back release dates has always been fin with me. It seems as if some people get frustrated, but I would point out that Blizzard has consistently had the most polished MMO/Expansion releases in the industry.
it is pretty much a yes-event, considering that Bungie's cancelled Halo MMO was codenamed Titan, and then the connection to Acitivision and Blizzard.

Will we witness the same transition from Warhammer to Warcraft, with Halo to Titan?
Being a profit oriented firm, blizzard will not release "strawberry" until profits from wow decrease significantly.

I'm pretty sure blizzard got the ressources to release a polished brand new product by 2012 if they wanted, but the pressure must not be high atm.
I'm curious what Blizzard will come up with...Considering their impeccable play of the mmo market up to now i'm guessing it will be something completely different from WOW so the two won't bite each other. For competitors it must be discouraging: with a faultless money machine WOW running at top speed Blizzard will be able to invest so much in new development it makes you want to consider other business opportunities and give up on MMOs..
What I thought was way more interesting is the rumor that Titan is an MMOFPS. Imagine the anger within the WoW community if Blizzard's "Next Big" was not for the existing WoW community, or at least not for most of it.

That is what i am expecting. When completely controlling a mature market (assuming the traditional MMO has reached this stage, which i think it has) it makes sense to diversify and explore new areas/niches to control. Backed by almost unimaginable resources Blizzard probably can make lightning strike twice...
i actually think you're missing the point on this one, Tobold.

the first question is: is the leaked document legitimate? combine the sacking of the Blizzard China General Manager as a direct result of the leak *and* the confirmation that the next MMO *is* named Titan, and we have an authentic document.

The follow-up question therefore, is: do Blizzard treat their investors in the same way they treat their players? and the answer, quite obviously, is No: they *cannot* make delivery promises to investors and let them slip for 12 months or more; or cancel them or merge them together. that would be all sorts of legal pain. maybe the deadlines might slip by a few months - but as the product slate is divided by quarter, letting a deadline slip into the following quarter would have real, measuable and actionable effects.

thus... if the deadlines can't slip without investor aggro + and the deadlines are tight = content will have to slip if slippage is required.

not wanting to get too conspiratorial on you, but the leaked product slate reveals that ActivisionBlizzard have decided that they're going to strip-mine WoW in exactly the same way they're currently doing to CoD.

if the product slate is legit, then it's really terrible news for WoW players, as content over the next 3 years is coming 2x as fast as oer the last 6 years, at the same time as the next AB MMO is released, and thus with little likelihood of WoW getting extra staff to produce the extra content. content twice as fast with no extra staff (and likely fewer staff, as Titan will inevitably swallow up all availabel resources) = significant diminution of content. and Blizzard have just confirmed that the slate *is* legit.
Well, that Product Slate has WoW X5 and Titan being released at the exact same time (end of 2013) and that seems rather strange, unless the games target a completely different audience.

Moreover, we know that Blizzard is working on at least one other new IP, and that's not even on there.
The rumor has been kicked around for months now that Blizzard's new MMO, Titan, is going to be a MMOFPS with a degree of focus on social websites, such as Facebook. It has also been rumored that they DON'T want to pillage gamers from WoW for Titan, which should be obvious. If you have 10 Million people playing 1 game is makes no sense to split them up over two games.

As for the investors... Blizzard has said for awhile that until they fail to show a profit they are in complete control of their release dates. The investors can go frack themselves.

To be honest if you have been watching the blogging and MMO community closely over the last 1 1/2 years none of this is new information.
I don't think Blizzard is worried about cannibalizing their own customers too much.

After all the grew the MMO market from 400k (about EQs peak) to 11 million, a growth of factor of 30x.

Add to that Farmville has primed the pump for more gamers over all.

While Strawberry might pull some WoW players, I suspect that Blizzard's goal is to again expand the MMO market to something like one and a half to two times it current size--which would be what? 1/6th of Farmville players?

And gamers, as a demographic, aren't old enough to start dying out yet. And I can't imagine anyone younger than Gen X not being someone who plays games on a computer (though they might not call themselves a gamer).

How many I-Phone users? And Android users? And DS owners? The games market will only grow for a number of years yet.
World of Don'tCallItStarCraft.

Doesn't make sense for Activision to fuel 3 similar projects. I doubt Strawberry is FPS based. Let's wait for some big developer names to pop up, for Blizzard to hire. Same thing happened with Diablo 3, wich was Hydra couple of month prior to the first news of new Blizzard employes. The only real info on that leak and the one that kills the MMOFPS theory for me? They sideline/kill WoW for the new thing. Do you lure those WoW folks into something new but similar or into something radically different? This is Blizzard after all.
Geert said "that seems rather strange, unless the games target a completely different audience."

I'd be very surprised if Blizzard aimed "Titan" at the same demographic as WoW. They can't avoid a portion of their current playerbase migrating out of curiosity, but WoW has every chance of holding onto a massive market share indefinitely, possibly for another decade or more, so why provide the mythical "WoW killer" themselves?
Go here before you start saying much else on the new MMO or what Blizzard has said about it.

A few leaked sources have more or less confirmed the FPS portion the French site announced.
Nah, it's totally a riff on Titan AE. There's a new world for the humans to explore, after all.
Titan AE was a great movie. I've been trying to find it on DVD but can't seem to locate a copy.

Blizzard admitting that the project is "codenamed" (not even titled) Titan, gives us nothing.

It's like Tom Cruise accepting he is a douche. We haven't learned anything new, and it doesn't quite satisfy you like you thought it would have.
I realize that a codename isn't supposed to mean anything but if they were calling it Strawberry I would be worried. Titans: cool, mean, tough. Strawberries... not so much.

As for them moving to doing expansions in a 6 quarter time frame, that sounds completely realistic to me. Remember, the next expansion will, almost certainly, add only 5 levels also, yet they wont be rebuilding the old world again and, almost certainly, will not be adding two new races though I could see them adding the next hero class. So, if the next expansion is just 5 more levels and a hero class, that means a lot less work for them to do. So not only does 6 quarters sound reasonable, it almost sounds like they are being purposefully conservative in their timing. It could actually indicate that they are moving resources over to upcoming projects.
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