Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Blizzard doesn't want to be a MMORPG company

You probably heard by now that Blizzard decided to cancel their next-gen MMORPG project Titan. Now a lot of people interpret that in the general mood of "MMORPGs are dead" (or at least the triple-A version of them is). While hard data are limited, the anecdotal evidence of the big MMORPG releases of this year indicated that they all failed to hold on to their players. And unless I overlooked any important announcement, there is only Everquest Next left in development as triple-A MMORPG, plus a bunch of minor players.

But what I found interesting in the announcement of the Titan cancellation was how open Blizzard discussed that they want to be company making great games, but they didn't necessarily want to be "the MMORPG company". Coming from the company that in the history of MMORPGs made the most money of that genre, that is strong stuff. But then a lot of Blizzard games in other genres were also highly successful.

I believe that Blizzard excels at making highly polished games of whatever the currently popular genre is. I believe that it is safe to say that MMORPGs aren't the "currently popular genre" any more. Which is why Blizzard is working on a MOBA instead. It is as simple as that.

Archeage started pretty strong, queues, new servers everywhere, so there is still hope for the MMO scene, but you are right, they are clearly not the "big thing" now.
I think it's been obvious for a couple of years that Blizzard hadn't figured out how to make a new MMO that will be a huge success (they can afford realism better than most).

It would be nice to see some of the ideas they were working on, though I suppose everything would have been vastly changed before launch if it happened anyway.
Yes, they want a piece of the pie that League of Legends has.

It wouldn't have surprised me if you'd have told me they tried to turn Titan into a combo MMO + MOBA, but since we know little about Titan save the name, we'll never know for certain.

Another thing is certain, however: Blizzard isn't bringing out a new world to play in anytime soon; everything I see right now on their in-house development plate is derivative of Starcraft, Warcraft, or Diablo.
Kinda makes sense.

But then again, they made Hearthstone which actually made the genre (Card Games) insanely popular.

So it's not entirely bandwagon hopping either.
But then again, they made Hearthstone which actually made the genre (Card Games) insanely popular.

You could say the same about World of Warcraft. Just before WoW was released in Europe, some financial analyst made an estimate about the total potential size of the MMORPG market in Europe, and came up with a number of 280,000. Then WoW sold 380,000 copies the first day, and went on into heights previously not imagined. MMORPGs were already "popular", just not "insanely popular" before WoW.

Makes you wonder if they aren't too late for MOBAs. League of Legends is already in the "insanely popular" category, it is hard to image Blizzard making a game with 10 times as many players.
The problem Blizz has with LoL is that there's a ton of advertiser/sponsor money for the pro leagues already, and with LoL "free to play" for the basic game there's a constant stream of new players.

In retrospect, Blizz's cancellation of BlizzCon to focus on the world championships a few years back was likely their major attempt to break into the LoL level pro gaming circuit.
The day WoW will feature a new graphic engine (not a realistic one, but something with better textures, better models, etc) we will see a new WoW era.

Rugus, no. The problem with WoW is not as simple as graphics.

Blizz stumbled on a vast virgin forest--- decades of players who had never played in MMO before. It proceeded to clear cut that forest.

The cancellation of Titan is them looking back and seeing scrub brush and stumps and deciding to move on. MMOs are back to the niche status that they deserve based on the time demands, lackluster gameplay, and somewhat toxic social environment.

That's fine. The hardcore get their playground back, the casuals move on to something better for them, everyone ends up happy except the investors who showed up with chainsaws but found Blizzard had cut everything down.

They've been making constant updates and tweaks to the engine with every release. The new character models look pretty good (but this art, tastes vary).

As far as "Next Big Thing", where do you classify Star Citizen?
The problem Blizzard has with making a new MMORPG is that if they had a great new idea, they would already integrate it into WoW. The game might be in slow decline, but it is still FAR more popular than any other MMORPG, and still raking in a huge profit.

Personally, I will be glad if the genre is declared "dead or dying." It won't mark the end of MMORPGs, but it will mark the end of WoW clones.

Related to this, it would not surprise me if (given the current sad state of the genre) WoW found a resurgence with the release of WoD, more so even than normally with an expansion.
I wonder if it is already too later for Blizzard to get a substantial piece of the MOBA pie. League of Legends already has far more players that WOW had at peak. If Activision/Blizzard do release a MOBA there is a good chance they will end up duking it out with Valve for a distant second place.
Blizzard seem to have run out of ideas for MMORPG's (perhaps they never had any). They've just adapted other MMO's "innovations" for years. It's clear that WoW is just a cash cow to milk while they can invest it's profits in other area's. There is certainly demand for a good MMO and once WoW is dead this demand will be unfulfilled with any long term options. Blizzard know their strengths - execution and IP. This means they can easily wait until a smaller developer comes up with some ideas and they just copy, execute and put their own IP over the top for a hit.
Probably something like that.

They've realised the world entire interest in mmorpgs - and that market is tapped out (and being fragmented by new free mmorpgs). Unless some third world nation starts paying to play, that market has already been claimed.
I'm surprised there is not more talk about a potential World of Starcraft. I had always thought deep down that Titan was this in disugise but I guess not :(

They could never release World of Starcraft while WoW is still raking in the moneys but it has to be in consideration.
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