Titan delayed until 2016

wow escalation
It’s like they were trying to tell us something…

Okay, so maybe I was wrong about Blizzard wanting to use the natural lull to wrap up WoW and hype their next game.  In usual Blizzard fashion, Titan is rumored to be delayed until 2016.  And by delayed they mean 70% of the team is reassigned and they are starting over. Didn’t we all see this coming? Pretend you did. This reminds me of Ghost; when Blizzard was going to release the console game at the end of the original Xbox’s generation (not to be confused with Xbox One) but decided not to at the last moment and completely cancelled the game.  Most of the reasons why Titan is delayed are likely technology based, but part of me hopes deep down they want to make a truly different game.  They probably realized there’s no such thing as a WoW killer, and the more people try and label the next game a WoW killer, the more it solidifies WoW when players come running back to resubscribe.

But really, what the heck are they going to do with WoW?! Now I’m positive they’re going to really mix things up and go F2P or some new hybrid model.  Do they need to? No, but people are realizing that WoW is old and they’re wanting to move on and do something new.  Blizzard has to provide their players with a reason to keep playing, or create a new reason to attract large numbers of players.  Either some amazing changes to WoW gameplay, and amazing expansion packs (*cough* Burning Legion *cough*), or a shakeup.  WoW still has millions of people more than the next game, but I can’t imagine they’re really okay with the numbers dwindling without a plan to gather them all up and funnel them into a new game.

The only thing I know with absolute certainty now is that World of Warcraft is going to get bigger before it gets smaller (google: define escalation).  I was looking forward to a conclusion rather than the temptation to return when the next huge evolution of WoW inevitably drops.

  • At this rate of loss, they could keep losing subscribers and still be ridiculous profitable after operating cost all the way through 2020. They don’t have to “do anything with WoW”. It’s making over 100 million a month on subscriptions alone.

    I don’t believe WoW will go F2P for another 10 years at least. But I wouldn’t be surprised (and I’d actually enjoy it) if they put in a cash shop for pets + mounts + vanity gear.

  • Even if Titan was coming out next year, there’s still no way Blizzard would sunset WoW. You simply don’t wind down a game that’s generating absurd amounts of revenue when you have hundreds of employees depending on that income stream. Hits of WoW’s magnitude are simply too rare in this business. No company says of a flagship product “I’ve sold enough copies–I don’t think I’ll try to sell any more.”

    Naturally, as the market changes, adaptations to things like the business model have to be considered. One might imagine somebody important inside Blizzard has a magic number in mind, and when subs hit that level, the conversion to free-to-play will take place. Then again, a skeptic who knows the industry better and who realizes how hard it is to change course on a behemoth project mid-stream might argue that Blizzard has no magic number, has made few preparations to convert the game to 100% F2P, and will react suddenly and awkwardly whenever the executive order comes down to make the change.

    Time will tell. But I do agree that WoW will turn up the heat rather than go gently into that good night. There’s way too much money on the table to do otherwise.

  • @Cuppycake: While I haven’t taken the time to look at their financials (that’d be a fun afternoon, wouldn’t it?) I agree that they can probably be ridiculously profitable even if they hemorrhaged half their players. I always get this vibe that Blizzard cares as much about their perceived success as they do their literal success… although they did release Diablo 3, so never mind.

    Blizzard technically doesn’t have to do anything to WoW, but now they’ve given themselves a huge window and more room to slide I anticipate the company will make a move simply because they can.

    @Steve: I meant wrap up as more of a transition from WoW being the flagship title that seemingly stays the same (and obviously begins to bore people) into something new, or to at least (loosely) conclude the story for those of us who care and want some closure.

    In my post last week, I had anticipated 3 years from now (ironically the date they delayed until…) that WoW would let another Blizzard game step up and take its place — one with greater growth potential. It wasn’t that WoW would dwindle, but WoW could dwindle and it wouldn’t matter.

    I think Blizzard is exactly the type of company that will do some crazy transition with WoW just because they can. This goes back to not having to do something with WoW, but knowing they will because they are Blizzard and they want that type of control over the industry. It won’t be a normal F2P conversion, and it won’t be because they’re feeling the pressure. It’ll be because they think they can shake things up and revolutionize something.

    WoW will never go gently off into the night. They’ll redefine what night means, then command the sun.

  • I don’t see Blizzard making 100 million a month. They claim they have 9-10 million subscribers, but that’s probably 2 million western customers paying 15 a month, then whatever the Asian customers paying. Still 30 million a month is nothing to sneeze at. Sadly given how bad MoP was I can’t imagine how bad the next expansion will be.

  • Wrong about winding down WoW? Shocker.

    Really, you aren’t cannibalizing your own market by releasing a game alongside your own. The important part is the absolute number of subscribers, which is why so many F2P companies have many games side by side. Different appeals, as well as cross promotions increase and improve the audience, not diminish it.

    Also if you think blizzard is at all like the blizzard it used to be, you’re wrong. Their current blunders have just pounded it into them that they need to put some additional effort into Titan to ensure their reputation stays in the black.

    They wont lose their cash cow, they will milk it until it’s dead, much like how Activision wants them to. There’s no real question about this, and anyone saying Activision had no influence on their decisions only has to look at their recent catalogue since they got bought and compare it to their previous efforts.

    WoW is going to survive for much the reason EQ does, nostalgia, peoples first MMO, a very well polished interface, and old friends pulling you back in.

    Blizzards heyday of commanding anything is over, they will slowly putter out, ruining their goodwill over the years until they simply become a shell of what they once were. A refusal to see this is a refusal to see the history of companies who have been bought by Activision or EA, no matter how profitable they were.

  • @Danath: See my clarification on winding down. RE: not canibalizing your own market — you can still canabalize your own profit potential. If people don’t see a reason to switch from WoW, then that limits potential on a new title. So you either make more money with one or the other, or you limit on both. Radically altering WoW’s model (or even Titan’s) gives them both sides.

    Blizzard is like it used to be: Focused on making the best product they can. That doesn’t make them impervious to blunders (D3), just slow, methodical, and incredibly powerful when they execute well.

    WoW isn’t going anywhere, it’s just going to change. It’s that change that will be a wind down because it’ll be the first time we’ve seen major change in WoW for many, many years. This is all me theorycrafting, mind you.

  • I interpret it as Blizzard realizing that the MMO market has shifted considerably over the past year or so and that Titan (as it was) was not positioned well to succeed in today’s marketplace. Many MMO companies are learning this lesson “on the fly” as can be seen by Trion’s recent decision to transition RIFT to a free-play model. I think Blizzard was building Titan with the “traditional” sort of MMO model in mind and realized that it would not be competitive in a market full of well-supported F2P games. F2P isn’t “the future,” it is the NOW. Whether it will remain dominant for as long as the traditional subscription model had been remains to be seen, but it is the current reality that anyone developing an MMO today must be prepared to deal with. And I believe it was Scott Hartsman who said that the best F2P games are designed that way from the ground up, not retrofitted mid-stream. That’s what I think Blizzard is doing with Titan, rebuilding it from the ground up to reflect what today’s MMO marketplace looks like.

  • @Keen

    The simple answer is no it doesn’t. The idea of cannibalizing your own market has been proven to be incorrect, but it’s something legacy companies cling to quite a bit. People playing both your games, and cross promoting your games increases the player base for both, and part of the appeal of having more than one MMO is you can appeal to different players with different settings and methods of gameplay.

    It hasn’t executed anything well, D3 was bad, SC2 was bad (and is decreasing in popularity to LARGE degrees as a game where people actually compete in tournaments), the expansion has been released and passed by with barely a whisper from anyone.

    Blizzard is coasting on its own reputation at this point, WoW isn’t going anywhere like I said, it’ll just grind out until it dies out. Blizzard isnt going to wind it down or get rid of it, they’ll maintain it until it stops earning money.

    Also the idea that they’d wind down their game so that another can take its place is silly. there is no one best perfect game that appeals to the most players, diversity is how you get the most customers.

    The current direction of wow has only gone downhill, putting in more things that more people don’t like as they listen increasingly to the elite of the elite on how to develop their game. Arena? Crap since it came out, but blizzard clings to it in their aspirations for esports. Dailies? Painful to almost everyone. Increasing use of heroics to prolong grinding content? Constantly shoveling more and more loot in our faces in order to maintain a dopamine reaction system to keep people doing things?

    Yeah, it’s been going downhill a looong time. There’s a reason why I liked DAoC and I havent had a good opinion on most of what WoW has done for a long time.

    And the argument of “its doing good NOW so obviously you’re wrong!” is false, as the game is literally surviving under it’s own momentum. Another phenomenon that can be seen applying to many games that are old and still fairly popular.

    WoW isn’t changing, it has no desire to, it will simplify and survive on its own momentum and blizzards name a long time yet until it simply puffs away.

    Every company is “focused on making the best product they can.” The issue with blizzard is not that, it’s that their current practices, pricing, releases, game content are not what it used to be. They no longer have the same care or desire for perfection and polish that they used to at all.

  • @Danath: I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. I’m positive WoW will change before it puffs away. I’m positive they’ll come up with some clever way to exploit as much revenue out of it as they possible, even after they move on and focus the majority of their attention onto something new.

    I’m with you that the game is surviving on its own momentum, and that’s precisely why I thought they were going to start hyping Titan; shift gears. I was wrong. They’re delaying the Titan hype which means they have to reengage people with WoW. Cuppy brought up earlier that technically Blizzard wouldn’t even have to reinvigorate WoW to make money, but this is Blizzard — they’ll make WoW as popular as it has ever been again.

  • @Keen

    They really won’t, this is where I disagree Keen. They were NEVER going to wind down WoW, and they are currently trying to hype up wow by introducing tons of new stuff, new dailies, new pet battles, new whatevers.

    Unfortunately it is of no substance and can be brought down to “more grind.” which seems to be all they can do lately.

    This is why WoW is dieing, the dopamine model ISN’T working anymore, and they don’t know what to do.

    WoW’s heyday is over, it had it’s run, and it will survive, and earn money, and keep doing things for a while, but it’s really just a rock rolling slowly down a very long, but not very steep slope.

  • @Danath: So you think Blizzard NEVER plans to have another game they prioritize over WoW? You think they’ll never let it take a backseat? I feel like you’re saying WoW is out of options, but refusing to say Blizzard will ever let WoW take a backseat to another one of their games.

    Like I’ve said many times before, in this post and the previous one, it’s this very lack of direction that will force them to act. If they don’t have Titan to bring to the front, they’ll ramp up WoW again. When they eventually do have a game they can emphasize over WoW, they’re going to do it. They’re going to take a game with more energy and a longer future and put put that up front.

  • @Keen

    They won’t ever let WoW JUST backslide until its not worth putting effort into.

    They won’t let it die down, diminish or anything else for Titan, they will let it do so when it’s no longer worth the effort of fully maintaining.

    You’re still ignoring the fact they’ve been trying to ramp up WoW for a while now, and it’s utterly failing.

    You still think they’re the blizzard of the past, when all signs point to it not being true.

  • I’ve clarified a dozen times now that when I say they’ll wind down WoW I don’t mean they’ll just ignore it. I think they’ll let it take a backseat to a new title and bring closure and resolution to the story. This process will span years. To me, when it’s WoW we’re talking about, that’s winding down.

    Every real attempt they make to reenvigorate WoW has seen the numbers jump back up. I think the last time they hit a high point and dipped they surged back up higher than the previous high point. Obviously they can’t keep it up forever, and that is once again where I go back to eventually having to wind down WoW — and like I said in a recent blog topic, Blizzard has the unique position of being able to choose when this happens (they’ve chosen to delay it).

    Diablo 3 was a bust, but I don’t see all the signs you’re talking about.

  • for me Blizz seemed to loose their magic when they were bought out by Activison
    best i’m hoping for in the short term is a D3 expansion (loosing the Auction house)
    a good WOW expansion with a graphic overhaul.

  • I agree with Keen. Blizzard will do major changes to wow to attract more people or bring old players back. Now imagine if blizzard make a project like everquest, and start a vanilla server that will slowly progress over time to the expansions e.t.c. I predict they will reach 20 millions..

    Or make an expansion with epic lore..imagine “the return of Burning legion” with queen Ashara and the tomb of Sargeras…

    Also keep in mind that the goal of a company is not just profit, but maximizing profit..so even if they are ridicullous profitable with 5 million players that doesn’t mean they will not try to reach 10 millions again. And at the end, Blizzard had create a legendary image to the gamers with top quality products the last 20+ years..if they lose that image(their main selling point) then they are “dead”

  • to finish that, I don’t believe blizzard will let wow die slowly in the long future…keeping it alive until the last 300-400k players. That will destroy their image. I am sure they will end it with an epic finale while it is on its peak and be a legendary history game. Like the soldiers in the past that they prefered to die in the glory of a battle while they stand still and strong rather than die old and helpless on their beds..

    And then they will move to their next best thing (titan). Besides, Blizzard always say they are very peaky when they hire developers and stuff, meaning that they will keep a solid development team and focus on one game to make it The best rather than hire people to maintain multiply games..

  • “you can still cannibalize your own profit potential”

    I am not so sure that would occur, not at least from a general Blizzard profitability perspective.

    If Blizzard has a single MMO product out then when someone tires of it they try a competitor’s product.

    If they have 2 of the hottest MMO products out then the attrition demographic from either game is potentially salvageable.

    Plus do not underestimate players that might keep invested in both products even to the point of maintaining dual subs.

    If they offer two products with different pricing models they stand to not only grab new players, but also retain old ones; if WoW goes F2P why wouldn’t old time WoW players keep their accounts active and play when the mood strikes them?

    I think most companies would like to monopolize their market with multiple product selections that appeal to different demographic groups; as a matter of fact I think that this is the rule as opposed to the exception.


    Having two well funded and well polished products out in a field full of 3 monther titles may just approach that goal.

    I also wouldn’t be surprised if they took advantage of cross-game marketing strategies, I mean why not buttress the success of one with the other?

  • Multiple products are fine. What I’m saying is that if the original product holds people back from switching, and switching would be more profitable, then keeping the older product alive is hurting the potential for more revenue.

    The solution isn’t simple, but if you can change the original product to be more profitable (like change the business model) or encourage people to switch (like wind down WoW) then you’re fine.

  • @Keen

    That is pretty much always incorrect. There’s a reason why in everything around us we offer large varieties of the same product with differences, winding down WoW for Titan wouldn’t do anything but hurt their own profit potential.

    What you do is cross promote, offer incentives to get people to sub for both games, offer rewards in each game for playing the other, winding down the original product in the hopes of getting people to switch to the alternative in mass numbers has worked approximately…


    Especially when product B isn’t necessarily the same as product A, it depends on what Titan IS, if it’s another wow MMO, you may, just MAY be right. EQ2 sure didn’t get everyone who played EQ, and killing or winding down EQ wont boost EQ2s numbers.

    That’s a marketing fallacy that has long since fallen by the wayside. Heck, there’s even more obvious examples when just looking at multi billion industries like Windows. Decreasing one side of the pie does not necessarily increase the other side of the pie. The ONLY way your idea on the system works is if theres a 100% conversion ratio of people from WoW to Titan, because for every lost customer on wow, the hit is alot more than the price of the box copy that would provide the temporary initial boost in sales numbers.

    Also regarding coca cola. Killing original for the new coke to force people to switch. Didn’t work back then either.

  • @Danath: The assumption that it’s another MMO is where my entire position is coming from.

    You’re fighting my point from a different angle thinking we completely disagree, but you’re saying things that agree with my point.

    I have never said that Blizzard should get everyone to switch. I said they have options. They can wind down WoW and introduce the new product, or they can change WoW drastically (or even Titan, as I said in a previous comment) so that the two products are radically different.

    Cross-promotion and getting people to play both = business model. I agree, that’s a great idea.

    EQ2 didn’t get everyone to switch because EQ1 didn’t have a whole lot of players anyway. EQ1 filled a different need. EQ2 nearly floundered until SOE changed EQ2 and began satisfying a segment’s need. This isn’t even the same subject, though.

    You’re absolutely wrong about a company never being able to switch people from one product to the next. Even as I write this my Mom is telling me how she’s preparing to buy a new iPad because Apple is not going to support the iPad 1 anymore. I don’t know what world you’re living in if you think that companies sell one product to their customers and expect them to stay with that product forever, even if a product releases that is simply an upgrade. My god, the number of people who buy every version of the iPhone disproves your point.

    I don’t get the new coke reference. That’d be like saying Blizzard doesn’t need a new game and they can stick with their old one. Clearly that’s wrong, as it was obviously wrong for coke.

    Bottom line, I think my point stands.

    (1) If Titan can be more profitable than WoW, then get people to play Titan.

    (2) If WoW can be changed, or Titan can be radically different enough, so that people play both WoW and Titan, then do it.

    Personally, I hope they wind down WoW from a story perspective to give us a great ‘ending’ to the story, but at the same time revamp the game to a new business model which allows people to spend money and keep playing WoW while not competing with their new, and hopefully more profitable, game.

  • You’re analogy of hardware = mmorpgs is a little off. People buy new iPhones/iPads but they get to keep the ecosystem they invested in. Going to a new mmo you lose everything you spent years accumulating. Upgrading hardware every few years would be more analogous to buying an expansion every year or two.

    Personally, I think they will never truly wind down wow as long as they are making any level of cash off it. I could see them do a FTP revamp or something similarly drastic when its down to under a million subs.

  • @Fergor: I was responding to Danath’s statement that no company -ever- has been able to get large groups of people to switch products, and his reference to new coke. Of coarse it’s not the same. Nothing, not even another MMO or another MMO company, can even be compared to Blizzard and WoW. They are the outlier, and that’s why I think they’ll be able to do so many things no one else has been able to do in this space. Perhaps a better link would have been SC1 to SC2. Most people switched. The pros switched. People still play SC1, but Blizzard has officially moved people over.

    I absolutely believe we’ll see a wind down for WoW. Again, I want to get this point across, wind down =\= ignore, close down, downsize, etc. Simple google definition wind down: To slow; to become calmer or less busy; relax; That will happen. How Blizzard does that could be a real treat, and in slowing down the game they may end up making gazillions of dollars. Make it F2P, release paid content and pvp bundles periodically, etc.

  • @Keen

    Actually SC2 doesn’t have nearly the same popularity of SC1, especially in asian markets, and SC2 is rapidly going downhill in competitive tournaments in terms of participation and audience.

    Thus the big boom for LoL because many of the competitive players have been switching from SC2 to it and other games.

    So you’re incorrect on this statement. Blizzard may have moved over, but the big pros market did NOT move over in nearly the same capacity.

    And isn’t IPAD on Ipad 5? Just because they “no longer support ipad 1” does not mean all the ipad 1 users are going to switch, and ipad doesn’t provide a subscription revenue service after the person buys the ipad, so the revenue stream for apple comes with the release of new products and relying on people buying them. This is slightly different, and even then, every new ipad iteration doesn’t get a 100% conversion rate, but it may attract new consumers over time and convert more people over time. It also allows variable pricing, hey, I dont care that much about ipad, but the ipad 3 looks fairly cheap and does what I want…. In the case of ipads, you have product variety, they are all ipad, but different iterations.

    Windows XP is still surprisingly popular, even though they discontinued supporting it a long, long, long time ago in computer software terms.

    Blizzard needs a new game, but the idea they will epically wrap it up, or wind it down are both incorrect, and Blizzards WoW subscriber days are just going to be in a steady slow decline. Some boosts will happen with every expansion pack which will quickly drop back down and continue the steady decline over years and years. They do NOT have a major revamp in the works, as they are just doubling down on bad ideas at this point and insisting that they will get better based on nothing is a difficult argument to disprove.

    Blizzard is only an outlier in terms of subscriptions. It ISN’T the most profitable game on the market anymore, and in terms of executed ideas, it hasn’t done anything particularly original in a long time. In fact, to bolster income, they have been selling cash shop items, which will earn them gazillions of dollars due to their large number of players, but not improve subscribers numbers.

    My point is, a wind down isn’t going to happen, they will drive the game until it’s no longer worth maintaining, then keep a skeleton crew on it until it’s no longer worth the ROI, then kill it. The game will wind down of it’s own accord as subscribers fall, it won’t be a blizzard led decision.

  • What people are forgetting is that Activision-Blizzard is a publicly traded company, and that means you ultimately answer to your share-holders.

    So even if Blizzard is making 100 million dollars a month, if that is down from 120 million a month from the previous quarter, the share-holders will demand action and they will be compelled (and obligated) to respond, and that is precisely what has been happening for the past several years.

    Successful companies do not get fat and then mail it in. Failing companies do that.

    But fear not. Greed will find a way.