Blizzard delays unannounced MMO until 2016

diablo3goldstore Date: Jun/15/13 20:57:19 Views: 661

LOS ANGELES — Blizzard Entertainment has delayed its expansion pack for the action-role-playing game Diablo III until next year, GamesBeat has learned.

The team of 100 developers working on the MMO, codenamed “Titan,” has been reduced by 70 positions, and Blizzard is reassigning those people to other work. Meanwhile, the core of the team will start over on Titan. The title is now not expected to be published until 2016 at the earliest.

Blizzard’s World of Warcraft has been generating $1 billion or so in revenues for years, with millions of players paying for subscriptions. But the game fell by 1.3 million subscribers in the first quarter of 2013 to just above 8 million, down from 10 million last year. This is down from a peak of 12 million subscribers. That’s a steep drop, and this suggests that Blizzard really ought to get on with the publication of its new MMO.

But Blizzard’s development teams aren’t known for their speed. The publisher often cancels projects that have been in the works for years if it believes that those games don’t meet its standard of quality. Word of the unannounced MMO has been leaking out for a couple of years now, but Blizzard has never officially named the project — Titan was a leaked codename –nor set a release date for it. Many have been expecting the game to debut in early 2014 because of a leak of its early schedule. It’s not clear whether that schedule was accurate or not, but it led people to believe that the Titan would come either late this year or early 2014.

[Updated: A Blizzard spokesman said to GamesBeat, "We haven't officially announced an expansion to D3, so there's no release date."] Blizzard takes issue with the word “delay” in our story, as they say they never announced a date and by virtue of that fact, they can’t miss the date. But we stand by our description, as we believe the expansion has been pushed back.

Now that the project has been supposedly reset, it doesn’t look like it’ll be coming out anytime soon. Meanwhile, it will be a big test in the market for Blizzard to hang on to its World of Warcraft subscribers at a time when many other MMOs have gone completely free-to-play. Blizzard has held off on the free-to-play business model in favor of paid subscriptions, but it has made concessions, such as making the first 20 levels of the game free.

We first reported on Titan back in 2011. Blizzard chief operating officer Paul Sams told us in an interview that “we have taken some of our most experienced developers and put them on [Titan]. We believe we have a dream team. These are the people who made World of Warcraft a success. We are going to blow people’s minds.”

Blizzard recently decided to reboot its massively multiplayer online game, codenamed Titan, and delay its launch.