Tuesday, September 30, 2014

News and Commentary: Blizzard Cancels Titan, Will Linden Lab Follow With SL 2.0?

By Bixyl Shuftan

For about a decade, Blizzard Entertainment's World of Warcraft has dominated the Multiplayer Online Game market. Although no longer getting twelve million players, it's still the top of it's class. But back in the prime of it's prize product in 2007, it was revealed that Blizzard was working on another MMO unofficially known as Titan. So when will this game be released? Apparently the answer is "never," as last week Blizzard stated the project was shelved.

There are a few reasons for Titan's cancellation. One was that those in Blizzard assigned to the game's development "didn't find the passion" for it. The success of it's recent smaller game "Hearthstone" was another factor, evidence that not everything by Blizzard has to be "colossal summer blockbuster-type products." Then there's the obvious: if the Titan MMO was a success, would it not be taking players from it's current hit World of Warcraft?

So Blizzard has made the decision to stick with what works, at least for now.

But does this mean that Linden Lab will soon be following up by scrapping its development of it's next generation virtual world, known as SL2.0?

Ciaran Laval wrote an article suggesting that Blizzard's move was a "warning bell" the Lab shouldn't ignore. Ciaran quoted Blizzard's cofounder, "We had created World of Warcraft, and we felt really confidnent that we knew how to make MMOs. So we set out to make the most ambitious thing that you could possibly imagine. And it didn't come together." A VP was quoted of their decision, "We were losing perspective and getting lost in the weeds a little. We had to allow ourselves to take that step back and reassess why the hell we were doing that thing in the first place."Ciaran suggested that Linden Lab needed "to ensure they don't find themselves in this position with their future virtual world, that they don't find themselves making something that isn't fun, that isn't really progressing how they would like it to, and that it might not be worth their time at the end of the day."

In a sense, the Lab has more to loose as Blizzard's big product's revenue model is millions of users paying $15 a month, while it relies on several thousand users paying $300 a month per sim and content creators whose wares get the masses of users to buy virtual currency to purchase them. One reader responding to Hamlet Au's article commented, "a content creator needs several years to get respect, establish their brand and gather a customer base. ... This takes a lot of time and effort. Once that gets destroyed, the creator will get burned. That creator did work at a very low hourly rate for years to get to the point where they were now. Telling that creator the place where he does business will get shut (down), but he can come and rebuild it all over again on new tech, you can be sure about 70 to 80% will say thanks but no thanks."

Ciaran concluded, "Linden Lab, with a combination of luck and judgement, struck gold with Second Life. The new virtual world has for more ambitious aims, but Linden Lab need(s) to ensure that don't tie themselves in knots trying to make it happen. Second Life is still there, and many people will be happy to engage with (it) for many a year yet."

Hopefully the Lab will take heed of Blizzard's decision, and concentrate on making it's customers happier with it's current product instead of developing a product that given the transition from it's classic viewer to Viewer 2.0 is likely to be neither fun for them or it's customers.

Sources:  PC Gamer, Polygon, New World Notes, Ciaran Laval

Bixyl Shuftan

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