So, what have you been up to for the last eight months?
If you’re like me, your wallet is still reeling from “Broketober” as you count the days until your favorite holiday 2014 title drops. Smash Brothers, Warlords of Draenor, The Master Chief Collection, and Far Cry 4 are just a few of the many great titles that will soon be available for our consumption. (If you feel overwhelmed, that’s OK. It’s a great time to be a gamer.)
But I chose eight months for a specific reason: November 11th will mark the eight month anniversary of last year’s most anticipated title: Titanfall. You do remember that game, don’t you? It was the winner of over 60+ E3 2013 awards (including Most Anticipated), the game that shone brightly to incredible fanfare and worldwide hype. If you were a gamer, there was no way you could have missed the discussion about this game. Only shadowed by the release of the actual Xbox One console itself, Titanfall was prominently put at the forefront of a massive marketing campaign that included YouTube advertisements, television commercials, and even radio spots! It was touted as the next evolution in first person shooters, and was believed to be the one title that would make the Xbox One the definitive next generation home console gaming system.
But when the fanfare died down, here we are, exactly eight months later:
Ouch. The next evolution in gaming has been demoted to a lowly $10 bargain bin download on Amazon. If you’re still looking to pick up the title on the Xbox One, I’ve seen sales as low as $19.99. Even the folks at Origin are giving away 48-hour blocks of play time to drum up some excitement about the title. As one who frequents video game forums, the mention of this game is virtually non-existent. How did this happen?
In the months leading up to the March 2014 release date, Respawn Entertainment delivered on all of their promises. The game had successfully completed beta testing on both the PC and the Xbox One ports of the title. The development team put the final polish on their next generation shooter, perfected the new parkour and Titan combat mechanics, and did it all on time. I emphasize that last point because delivering a game on time seems to be a tall task these days (DriveClub, Watch Dogs, The Order 1886, just to name a few!). The game even launched with a themed controller, a foot tall collector’s edition statue, got the Xbox One bundle program kicked off, and even managed to wow critics in their reviews, with a whopping 86 out of 100 review score. That’s very impressive on all accounts.
But while the critics were clamoring over the greater details of the game, it was the fan base that wasn’t entirely sold on the experience. The two biggest criticisms of the title, according to the consumer:
SIX VS. SIX MATCHMAKING. Many players felt that the count was too low for a next generation shooter. Many were quick to speculate that the Xbox One was not powerful enough to handle the high visual fidelity that the game demanded by pointing out that the game was only able to run at an unimpressive 792p resolution. To make the situation worse, many gamers were confused as to why the game was littered with “creeps” (non-player characters) who served little challenge and only acted as to flesh out barren portions of the map, as opposed to other players who could provide a greater challenge.
NO CAMPAIGN, MULTIPLAYER ONLY. There is a loose story of what Titanfall is all about, but you’ll only really uncover it via dialogue in multiplayer maps between NPCs. For this reason, many players found it difficult to relate to plight of the characters, the missions, or the overall feel of the game. Game mechanics alone are very important, but without putting everything into a context, heroic actions and adventures lose their luster. In addition, many gamers were still sour from the recent debacles of Diablo III and SimCity, in which online gameplay was mandated, forcing many players to wait in queue as servers attempted to handle the sheer volume of requests.
Then the dust settled, and the game had released. Sale numbers were hard to find, which is uncharacteristic in today’s market. In fact, I had a very difficult time finding any sales metrics at all when writing this article, short of industry predictions from various video gaming pundits. In fact, the folks at Electronic Arts were nearly silent on sales. But that aside, the hype for the game vanished. Web forum posters moved on to other subjects, and people seemed to grow bored of the game. By May of 2014, the game was a complete afterthought.
So what is my opinion on this crazy tale? Besides the fact that Titanfall is still a fun game that I enjoyed beta testing earlier in the year, I think the consumer is wising up to the hype. The market has spoken, which is why you’re seeing these fire sales on the product. With an endless stream of great games coming out into the market, supply has far outweighed the demand. And despite the seemingly limitless amount of press that Titanfall produced, gamers took exception to core gameplay mechanics and ultimately spoke with their wallet. Would Titanfall have succeeded with a fully-fledged single player campaign, and an increased player count on each map? We’ll never know that answer. But what we do know is that, despite the sheer amount of press thrown at this title, Titanfall missed the mark on most accounts.
What do you think? Did Titanfall get put into an impossible situation, considering how the console wars have shaped up? Or something I missed entirely? Let me know your thoughts and opinions below.