Titanfall 2 is a really good game. Like its predecessor, the multiplayer in Titanfall 2 is fast, loud, and tremendous fun; you could sell the game simply based on it. But developer Respawn went beyond simply improving upon a winning multiplayer formula, and created one of the best shooter campaigns the gaming community has seen in some time. Critical reception for Titanfall 2 has been overwhelmingly positive. Despite all of this, however, there is a palpable uneasiness that the game may not sell as well as expected, and publisher EA is to blame.
You could argue that 2016 (or at least the latter half of it) has been the “year of the shooter.” Like every other recent year, new entries in the Call of Duty and Battlefield series have released, but this time these games launched alongside a new Gears of War title and the follow-up to Titanfall. A list of four games may seem like a short list, but when you consider that these are four AAA blockbuster-style shooters releasing in the same year, the landscape looks a bit busy. And these four games weren’t even spread throughout the calendar year; every game on the list released in either October or November. That’s a lot of bullets flying, and it’s a lot to ask of shooter fans with budgets, who might otherwise be interested in at least two or three of these titles.
Battlefield 1 and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare releasing in close proximity is nothing unusual. These are two shooters from two different juggernaut publishers that always have and likely always will compete with one another. As such, Microsoft’s decision to launch Gears of War 4 in early October may have been shocking at first, but in hindsight makes great sense; launching Gears ahead of both Battlefield and Call of Duty allows it to have ample time to shine on its own before the perennial favorites show up. But then there is Titanfall 2, which EA apparently thought was best setup for success if it launched directly in-between Battlefield 1 and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. This makes even less sense when you consider that EA is also the publisher of Battlefield 1. EA released two of its own shooters within one week of each other. Why?
The only murmuring I’ve heard is that EA had the idea that releasing not one, but two highly-anticipated shooters alongside Call of Duty may pull more sales away from the competition. I’m not sure this is true, and I’m also not sure this is logical when you consider the undying popularity of the Call of Duty series. I get that business is business and that EA would prefer if potential Call of Duty dollars ended up in the EA bank account instead of Activision’s, but I think this was a bad idea. The Titanfall franchise is a young one, and Titanfall 2 is the first time a game in the series has been multiplatform. This could mean that there is a fair share of the shooter fanbase that never got to experience the original game due to its Xbox console exclusivity, and these are the consumers you risk losing in the traffic of established multiplatform franchises.
The verdict is still out on whether Titanfall 2 will live up to EA’s sells expectations, and that verdict will likely be out for some time as we wade through the holiday season. EA gambled twice this fall; the first gamble was sending this year’s Battlefield setting back in time, and it seems to have paid off. The second gamble was releasing Titanfall 2 this quarter, rather than holding it for early 2017. Let’s just hope that if this one doesn’t pay off, it at least won’t be too costly. After all, Titanfall 2 is a really good game, and after playing it, I want Titanfall 3.