Reportedly sales of this years big robot sequel Titanfall 2 are severely down on the previous game in the series. The Xbox exclusive previous game in the series. Some sources even put sales at less than a quarter of the previous iteration’s launch haul, despite availability on PS4 and PC.
Now, these reports are based largely on predictions, and may end up being less than 100% accurate, but, assuming there is a kernel of truth in this news, is anyone actually surprised? EA’s insistence on releasing its two biggest multiplayer shooters within weeks of each other, with the absolutely monolithic Call Of Duty: Infinite Warfare just over the horizon, appears to have already had serious consequences.
A few months back, CEO Andrew Wilson asserted EA’s belief that Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2 cater for different enough audiences to both be successful. In fact the sentiment, which seemed complacent at the time and in hindsight seems arrogant beyond belief, seemed to be that fans of the genre would buy their favourite of these two releases, or would simply buy both.
I do agree with Wilson in that Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2 do differ significantly in their target audience, and the likelihood is that gamers do prefer one style of multiplayer shooter over the other.
But EA’s confidence that enough shooter fans will buy both of these games is misplaced. These releases are not just competing for consumers’ money, but also for their time, something that is often a far more finite resource. There’s no point handing over the cash for both games if you can only realistically devote enough time to one or the other.
EA is competing not only with itself here for consumers’ precious free time, but also with movies, other AAA games in a typically congested end to the year, and, of course, television.
And this might be the fiercest competition of them all. TV is available to practically everyone, at the touch of a button, any time. And not just any old TV. Right now, in this so called ‘golden era’, quite literally some of the best TV ever made.
EA is banking on there being enough money spent on the shooter category this holiday season to make successes of both its tent-pole franchises. That is now looking like a very naïve assumption.
EA releases Titanfall 2 in 2017, at the end of Spring. With few other major games on offer during the slow summer months, and their interest in the previous years’ multiplayer shooters waning, players turn to Titanfall 2 in their millions, cementing the series’ fan-favourite reputation, and guaranteeing its future for years to come.