Titanfall 2‘s a good game. Its campaign is incredible, especially when compared to its AAA contemporaries. Its multiplayer is way better than it was during the “stress test.” It will offer entirely free maps, modes and multiplayer content down the line.
Titanfall 2 has done well critically, and it stands as a quality effort during the holiday season.
The problem? Word has it from rumor to retail charts in regions around the world that Titanfall 2 isn’t selling well.
That might be an understatement. Analysts said this game’s sales would be “substantially disappointing.” It’s been labeled a commercial flop in the UK. It doesn’t seem to be doing much of anything at retail.
And that flippin’ sucks.
The Titanfall 2 release date debacle
It doesn’t take a genius to understand the problematic nature of Titanfall 2‘s chosen release date. It was a bad decision. It was a mistake. It was, perhaps, a choice made in a mix of ignorance, hubris and pretension.
Titanfall 2 released on October 28, 2016. EA’s own Battlefield 1 released exactly one week before it, and Activision’s Call of Duty released exactly one week after.
EA literally sandwiched Titanfall 2 between two of the year’s biggest games. How could it possibly sell well?
EA was asked about this during their recent financial briefing. Their response doesn’t really make sense, but here’s what CEO Andrew Wilson said:
“We believe that Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2, while they have some overlap, fulfill very different motivations in what a player is looking for… And so we think there are really three types of players: people that really love Battlefield and that type of big strategic game play that will orient in that direction; the player that loves the fast, fluid, kinetic gameplay of Titanfall 2 and really orients in that direction; and the player that just has to play the two greatest shooters this year and will buy both.”
The decision was made, seemingly, by EA’s top executives. Speaking at a review event before release, Titanfall 2 Producer Drew McCoy explained that the choice came from above and was “locked in.”
“I actually don’t know where the decision came from. I just know it was locked in a long time ago and there was no changing it. I’m not really worried about it. We tried not to [worry] really…When you care about what other games are doing, when they’re releasing [, you worry]. At the end of the day, we’re releasing a game that we’re happy with, and we enjoy playing, that we’re proud of. As long as we’re doing that, I think we’re gonna find an audience. It doesn’t really matter when it comes out. A good game gets noticed.”
Here’s hoping EA didn’t destroy one of its best franchises
Respawn, in my mind, did almost everything right with Titanfall 2. They listened to fans after the first game. They made a campaign that was more than just a husk of multiplayer and is drawing comparisons to the likes of Half-Life 2.
They hosted what was essentially a beta, received tons of negative feedback and made actual improvements.
They, with EA, created a multiplayer DLC model that takes care of their player base rather than fragments it.
Titanfall 2, by the measures that matter, is a damn good game. It looks like it might tank, and that is awful for those who worked on it.
What’s even worse is Titanfall 2 is the second shot for this franchise. If it tanks, EA has a financial obligation to consider scrapping the franchise altogether.
I hope they don’t, but the move would make fiscal sense.
As someone who has played essentially all the marquee shooters this year, Titanfall 2 is one of the best. Its potential commercial failure is a damn shame.