We still don’t know much, but it looks like Blizzard’s tight-lipped group in-the-know is starting to grant its eager audience a few tidbits here and there about the next-generation MMO that it has lined up for sometime this century, after the relase of Diablo III.
In the past couple of weeks, both Frank Pearce, Blizzard cofounder and Executive VP of product development, and Paul Sams, Blizzard’s Chief Operating Officer, have gone on the record with Gamasutra to discuss the codenamed “Titan,” how it will affect WoW’s playerbase, and how they’ve transitioned Blizzard employees from WoW to the new MMO.
With a codename like that, it’s no surprise that Sams and other developers told Gamasutra that they expect the next-gen MMO to do what their competitors have only dreamed of in the past six years — eclipse WoW.
Paul Sams on “Titan”
“I believe [it's] the most ambitious thing we’ve ever attempted. And I feel like we have set our company up to succeed on that. We have some of our most talented and most experienced developers on that team. Many of the people that built World of Warcraft are full time on that other team.
…We think that it’s going to be very impactful in our industry and, we hope, very impactful to the world. We think that that will be, after Diablo III, the next big thing from us. The thing that we hope will happen is that it will not stop World of Warcraft but we believe will eclipse it.
We’re very confident in that product. 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.
So, hopefully in 10, 15 and 20 years, that [new MMO] will still be growing strong and will have set a new mark in the industry for that type of product.”
But, always careful to not seem too confident, Pearce chimed in his own interview just released today that the competition still has plenty of room in the market, and will continue to through “Titan.”
Frank Pearce on room in the MMO market
“Whether it’s a Blizzard game or another great MMO, I think there’s plenty of space in the market for great MMOs to share customers… We have players that burn through content in weeks or months that takes us two years to create. There are so many people looking to play these experiences so passionately, so many hours a week, I think there’s plenty of space for the industry to grow.
…If you make a great game experience that’s really awesome, there’s always more room in that market.”
But still, Blizzard is smart and knows how to create an avidly loyal fanbase. Developers don’t seem to be too worried about losing their solid customer base — and perhaps that’s because they have upcoming StarCraft expansions, the Diablo III release, who-know-how-many more WoW expansions to rely on. They’re not about to put themselves out of business by not thinking of the future. Smart business. If one Blizzard product loses a customer to another Blizzard product, it’s not a loss; it’s evolution.
And Pearce expects that Diablo III may be the stiffest competition WoW has come up against yet.
Frank Pearce on the “cannibalization” of WoW players by Diablo III
“I think even a shorter-term concern is whether or not we might see cannibalization of WoW players from Diablo III when we launch it, because it’s a similar type of experience. Not exactly similar, but it’s that RPG feel… For us, I think it’s really important that we recognize that somewhere, sometime it’s likely that someone is going to cannibalize World of Warcraft players.
So it’s better we cannibalize them ourselves than let someone else do that, because if we cannibalize them ourselves, they’re still a Blizzard customer.”
Maybe we’re getting ahead of ourselves, here. WoW is still an absolutely huge market, and seems to still be growing with the release of Cataclysm. And Diablo III doesn’t even have a release date yet. But don’t worry, it doesn’t seem that the developers are forgetting about WoW, either. Sams said Blizzard plans to support WoW “for many, many years to come.”
While Blizzard has transitioned many experienced key minds behind WoW onto developing the new project, Sams said, many other experienced developers remain on the WoW team. Let’s hope that we continue to see some amazing innovations in store for WoW while it remains the MMO king.
With this development of starting to learn more about “Titan’ from the developers themselves, I’m wondering if Blizzard is preparing at all to announce anything more. After all, the community has to be abuzz about the game to fully appreciate any new large revelations they may make. I could be totally offbase on this prediction — after all, BlizzCon is still a long ways off — it’s just something I’ve been thinking about (and yes, hoping for). Let’s see if anything more comes of it.