Titan cancellation may have cost Blizzard more than $50 million

Industry analysts say the decision to pull the plug on Titan cost Blizzard a lot more than just seven years of time: The studio may have sunk $50 million or more into its development before finally deciding that it simply wasn't going to work. But in spite of that eye-popping price tag, the consensus is that it really didn't have much of a choice.

Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime said yesterday that despite putting the better part of a decade into Titan , it "didn't find the fun" in the game, which eventually led to the decision to kill the project completely. It was an "excruciating" decision, Blizzard's Chris Metzen added, and probably not just because it represented the end of a long and ultimately unfulfilled creative endeavor.

Industry analyst Billy Pidgeon estimated that the development cost of Titan may have topped $50 million, while Michael Pachter of Wedbush Security went even higher. "My guess is 100 to 200 people at $100,000 per year, so $70 to 140 million sunk cost," he told GamesIndustry International . "It's pretty sad that it took so long to figure out how bad the game was. I expect them to go back to the drawing board."

Another analyst, David Cole of DFC Intelligence, said the decision was likely prompted by the need for a subscription-based MMO to be "out-of-this-world unbelievable" in order to succeed in a market dominated by free-to-play games, which includes Blizzard's own Hearthstone . "I am expecting to see them continue to focus on high quality products but also focus on products with shorter development cycles and less cost," he said. "The market is just not in a place where you can have games with seven-plus year development. It is changing too fast."

Blizzard, of course, is one of the few game companies in the world that can absorb that kind of hit, and it's not a complete loss: Pidgeon noted that the benefits of the Titan experience "can include invaluable training, IP and technology that can be applied to other games." Even more interesting from the perspective of gamers, a Blizzard-connected source told Kotaku that "a good handful" of the Titan development team is still together despite the game's cancellation. Titan is dead, but it clearly isn't going to be forgotten anytime soon.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.