March 12, 2014
Microsoft Hopes Titanfall Will Boost Sales Of Xbox One
The clash of the titans began last fall when Sony released its PlayStation 4 video game console followed shortly by the arrival of Microsoft’s Xbox One. This was the first time in history that the two giants in the console market debuted competing systems in the same year. Each system has seen respectable sales, and while this remains a marathon and not a sprint, Sony has reportedly taken an early lead.
Microsoft now is pinning its hopes on this week’s Titanfall, an online-only first person shooter, which will be exclusive to Xbox One, Xbox 360 and Windows PC.
“It’s hard to understate how incredibly important Titanfall is for Xbox,” Yusuf Mehdi, chief marketing and strategy officer for devices and studios at Microsoft, said in an interview to the New York Times on Monday.
To capitalize on the potential of this game, which is being developed by Respawn Entertainment and published by Electronic Arts, Microsoft is releasing an Xbox One bundle that will include the system with the game for $500 – the same price it had previously charged for the console alone. This move effectively drops the price of the console by $60, as that is the price the game will retail for on its own.
While it won’t hit stores until Tuesday, the game has earned some early buzz.
Titanfall reportedly scored more than 60 awards at last summer’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), including a record-breaking six E3 Critics Awards for Best Original Game, Best Console Game and even Best of Show.
The game has also been compared to Halo – another sci-fi exclusive shooter to the Microsoft ecosystem. Halo in essence helped make the original Xbox a minor hit and its sequels have been hugely popular on the Xbox 360. So Microsoft is clearly hoping history will repeat itself.
There will be some hurdles to overcome. First, as Forbes noted this could be the first huge title – in more ways than one – to arrive as a digital download for a next generation console.
“There are now two gates for Titanfall to jump through in this sense,” Paul Tassi, contributor Forbes, wrote on Monday. “The first relies on the ability of Microsoft’s online store to deliver the game seamlessly to countless players all demanding it at once. The second is on EA’s shoulders as they have to ensure once the game is in hand (or on hard drive, as it were), that the servers actually work. The latter hurdle is one that EA has notoriously struggled with, and frankly there are few online-based multiplayer games that launch these days without some manner of connection issues. The fact that many might be choosing to digitally download the game through Microsoft adds another level of ‘things that can go wrong’ on day one.”
Then there is this reporter’s more cynical view. Titanfall is a big robot shooter game, and while I don’t think there is anything wrong with big robot shooter games I really can’t imagine this is the Xbox One’s killer app. I say this as someone who finds the concepts of giant robots – often called “mechs” to be rather silly. Soldiers on a battlefield use cover and need to stay low. Armored vehicles, such as our tanks, also rely heavily on cover. In these mech-style games this seems less important at times.
There is also the fact that this is an online only game. While many gamers only buy shooters for the online component and skip the multiplayer anyway, in this case Respawn Entertainment apparently didn’t even bother to include a single player game.
Back to those awards – it isn’t all that uncommon to earn a slew of awards and fail to deliver when the game is released and this could be the case with Titanfall. One early review of the game actually only gave it a 7/10. That’s not exactly the stuff of which “killer apps” are made.
“Titanfall is also a worrisome product that delivers only a fraction of what competing games – including Call of Duty – do, for the same price tag. That sets a worrying precedent where gamers are set to get less game for the same money. As the next generation of consoles takes root, this is both a commercial and an artistic concern,” wrote Peter Nowak for The Globe and Mail.
This could thus be the titan that falls.
Image Credit: Respawn Entertainment / Electronic Arts