Blizzard’s Decision To Cancel Titan Should Sound A Warning Bell For Linden Lab

Hamlet Au over at New World Notes has a blog post about Blizzard’s decision to cancel Titan. Titan was a planned new MMO from Blizzard, a long rumoured new MMO, indeed seven years long and it never seemed to see the light of day but it was supposed to be the next big thing.

Hamlet’s article has a link to a Polygon post on the same issue : Blizzard cancels its next-gen MMO Titan after seven years. That article has some great quotes from Blizzard’s co-founder and CEO Mike Morhaime and Blizzard’s senior vice president of story and franchise development, Chris Metzen. Linden Lab should pay careful attention here to what is being said and what has happened. Mike Morhaime is quoted as saying :

We had created World of Warcraft, and we felt really confident 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.

Linden Lab have created Second Life and I’m pretty sure that they feel really confident on how to make virtual worlds. They have now set out to make the most ambitious virtual world that one could possibly imagine, but will it actually come together?

Chris Metzen is quoted as saying :

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.

Linden Lab need to ensure that 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 might not be worth their time at the end of the day.

Then there’s the World Of Warcraft factor. World Of Warcraft may be in decline but it’s still quite healthy. The same can be said of Second Life. Chris Metzen confirmed that Blizzard will continue to support World Of Warcraft, indeed he goes further and says :

My hope personally is that we’ll support it forever

Linden Lab have said that they will continue to support Second Life, I’m sure there are people at the lab who hope they will support Second Life forever.

I’m going to go off on a tangent now, but an important quote from Chris Metzen in the article is :

The discipline of knowing when to quit is important.

That’s a really good quote, not just for developers but also for consumers. Prior to reading this article I had taken the decision to cancel my World Of Warcraft article. My decision was nothing to do with news about Titan, it was to do with my lack of respect for Blizzard’s European arm after their announcement that they are raising prices for future UK subscribers.

We regularly look at our pricing around the world and from time to time we make changes in light of local and regional market conditions. As such, we want to give everyone a heads-up that we will shortly be adjusting the pound sterling subscription price of World of Warcraft.

That announcement for me is too vague. Blizzard Europe had already upped the prices of store items for UK customers, to come back again to the UK for subscriptions just seems to be taking matters a little too far. The impression Blizzard Europe are giving is that they do not have much respect for their UK customers and from my position, that feeling is now mutual. I’m not an unreasonable person (no really), I’d accept a sensible explanation about a price rise, but I can’t bring myself to respect such an absurdly vague explanation. The price rise is piddly, but to come back to UK customers again is not a piddly issue, it’s one I find hard to accept.

However Chris Metzen is absolutely right about the discipline of knowing when to quit and it’s a decision I’d reached myself before reading Chris’ words.

Linden Lab should pay attention to those words too. Linden Lab, with a combination of luck and judgement struck gold with Second Life. The new virtual world has far more ambitious aims but Linden Lab need to ensure they 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 Second Life for many a year yet.


4 Replies to “Blizzard’s Decision To Cancel Titan Should Sound A Warning Bell For Linden Lab”

    1. High Fidelity is still very much in Alpha but they have an extremely enthusiastic team. There’s a lot of potential there but at this Alpha stage it is far from being fully realised.

  1. Did anyone notice how Mister Ebbe Altberg did bring in Las Vegas to Second Life after months and months of updating policies and TOS and bringing a new product on the market named skill gaming regions. Did you see how there are now thriving casino businesses in Second Life and how the Second Life economy received a hugely needed boost from mister Altberg his decisions.

    After months of commotion the entire summer mister Alberg managed to bring in TWO CLIENTS for skill gaming. Mister Alberg the creator of products for the millions like he prefers to call himself did bring in TWO CLIENTS AFTER MONTHS OF COMMOTION AND COMMUNITY OUTRAGE! The man is a gift from god, manager of the year award here we come!

    Linden Lab should not be creating a new virtual world because THERE IS NO NEED FOR IT. Anyone who knows about gaming engines and computer code knows Second Life needs updates yes, Second Life the platform might need a revamp with certain better technological aspects yes. Everybody agrees on that but there is no reason to gut the platform and the userbase in order to accomplish that.

    Good programmers can take apart the entire Second Life codebase, put it in modules and then work on each module to upgrade it to the latest standards without disrupting the world or the userbase and the communities present.

    It is highly likely Cory and Co have been coding a virtual world the previous two years at Facebook, the Oculus Rift is now ready with testing and the consumer version is expected in the next 4 to 6 months. Linden Lab is still in their hiring phase. When Facebook is ready and sends out an email to their 4 billion userbase they are instantly the largest virtual world platform around and you can be sure Linden Lab will be nothing compared to them.

    The only thing Linden Lab has is the decade old world and community that supports the platform. That is all Linden Lab has and that is plenty really, companies kill for loyal customers.

    Linden Lab should write a letter of apology to their userbase and clients

    Linden Lab should liquidate their sorrow excuse of a CEO

    Linden Lab should focus all their attention and resources to Second Life again

    Linden Lab should bring down the tier for full regions to 200$ a month

    Those are just the immediate iniatial steps to take

    Rosedale just got lucky with Second Life it did happen yes. Just like with the guy who invented the telephone and noticed sound came through when connecting two jars with a string. It is very unlikely Rosedale will have that happening again to him. Worst thing for Rosedale was to give up his success he invented being so full of himself thinking he could do it again.

    Second Life is a bunch of game levels connected with each other with the difference you can step directly into a new level and even see what goes on in the level next to the one you are in. That and the fact you can instantly create on the server. Everything else is not unique.

    Linden Lab you try to f**k up the community and the businesses of your platform. Just watch what will happen, it will be over before you know it.

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