Sacrifice in the name of quality: Blizzard cancels Titan

Blizzard co-founder and CEO Mike Morhaime, as quoted by Polygon:

It’s always really, really hard to make those kind of decisions. It was hard when we canceled Warcraft Adventures. It was hard when we canceled StarCraft Ghost. But it has always resulted in better-quality work.

I have a new found appreciation for calling it quits on high-stakes, heavily invested projects. Apple, Nintendo, Pixar — companies I deeply admire — share a singular characteristic: Sacrifice in the name of quality. The iPod OS came from Pixo, a company founded by two ex-Apple Newton developers. The history of the Animal Crossing franchise is rooted in the short-lived Nintendo 64DD. Even Pixar knows a thing or two about canceling huge investments.

Ed Catmull, Creativity, Inc., on the cancellation of Newt:

There are some who will read this and conclude that putting this film into production in the first place was a mistake. An untested director, an unfinished script—it’s easy to look back, after the shutdown, and say that those factors alone should have dissuaded us at the outset. But I disagree. While it cost us time and money to pursue, to my mind it was worth the investment. We learned better how to balance new ideas with old ideas, and we learned that we had made a mistake in not getting very explicit buy-in from all of Pixar’s leaders about the nature of what we were trying to do. These are lessons that would serve us very well later as we adopted new software and changed some of our technical processes. While experimentation is scary to many, I would argue that we should be far more terrified of the opposite approach. Being too risk-averse causes many companies to stop innovating and to reject new ideas, which is the first step on the path to irrelevance. Probably more companies hit the skids for this reason than because they dared to push boundaries and take risks—and, yes, to fail.

To be a truly creative company, you must start things that might fail.

While Titan is (sadly) added to the list of cancelled Blizzard projects (it still pains me to think of StarCraft: Ghost), I commend the company for sacrificing in the name of quality. I have always deeply admired Blizzard.