Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime was a bit vague when he spoke in 2014 about the studio’s reasons for pulling the plug on the MMO Titan after seven years in development. “We didn’t find the fun,” he said at the time. “We didn’t find the passion.” But in a recent interview with Gamespot, Overwatch Game Director Jeff Kaplan was a bit blunter about the state of the game when the axe finally fell.
“You had a really amazing group that was working on Titan. They were really talented individuals, but we failed horrifically in every way… In every way that a project can fail. It was devastating,” he said.”You had these people who either came from other companies or from within Blizzard, and were used to working on games that were very successful like a World of Warcraft, for example. To go through such a complete and utter failure is very hard for people who are used to experiencing success.”
Kaplan said the Titan team felt pressure, not from external sources, but because of the wild success of virtually every other Blizzard franchise in existence. “Nobody said a word, everyone was super supportive, but I think there was this inward embarrassment of like, ‘No, we need to prove that we’re worthy of being at Blizzard too. We can make something that makes the company proud’,” he said.
Despite the ugliness, the ultimate outcome was positive: The wreckage of Titan helped lay the foundation for Overwatch, and Kaplan said the shared experience of “sitting on the smoking pile of a canceled project” actually helped bring the team together. “When it came to move to Overwatch there was an extremely tight bond on the team and a ravenous hunger to show the world that we’re not failures and we can make something really fun,” he said.
It’s not often that you’ll hear a high-ranking game developer refer to his previous project as a horrific failure, but I suppose it’s a little easier to do when you’re confident that your next project is going to be a killer—and so far, Overwatch is looking pretty good. It’s set to come out on May 24, following an open beta that will run from May 5-9.