The Murder and End of Titanfall 2
Victor Cardoso looks at the End of Titanfall 2 and how a great game was failed by its publisher
Titanfall 2 was supposed to be one of the biggest hits of 2016, instead, it was mishandled and sent to die. It was the first of 4 EA franchises, in the last year, to be overcome with corporate greed and due to short sightings, Titanfall 2 was a commercial failure.
The game was supposed to be the culmination of everything Respawn had learned in its 7 years. However, within a couple of months of its release, its player base was basically dead, with low player counts and twitch streams of the game basically non-existent.
The reasons as to why Titanfall 2 failed can be examined from three different perspectives; publishing, business and development. All of which contributed to its financial and community decline.
Perhaps the least obvious reason that caused the failure of Titanfall 2 was that in the mind of consumers it had “presumed Xbox one exclusivity”. The original Titanfall was an Xbox One exclusive, and while those of us who keep up with the world of gaming might have known that this was no longer the case, the public at large didn’t. During this time the PS4 was outselling the Xbox console at a staggering 2 to 1. These two factors when added up did not bode well for the sales of Titanfall 2 and for its longevity.
As terrible as presumed exclusivity might have been, Titanfall 2 had bigger and more serious problems.
In the current state of the gaming world, Multiplayer betas are being used as marketing tools more so than as an opportunity to test the game before launch. This is hugely problematic for the development and sales of a game, as a bad beta riddled with bugs can now taint the user experience of players and essentially turn them off the game entirely before its release. In this case, Titanfall 2’s beta was a disaster.
The fast-paced action from the original Titanfall, one of its selling points, had been slowed down to a crawl, added to the fact that the two maps on the beta were not playgrounds where players were able to travel smoothly across the map using fast-paced movement and the architecture around, something that had been a staple of the franchise. Instead, the first taste Titanfall 2 players got was an open field with hardly any structures for players to pick up some momentum from.
As gamers, we are an extremely connected community. Failures like these, especially before launch are most certainly going to affect thousands of purchasing decisions.
Titanfall 2 had a problematic release date, wedged between the releases of Battlefield and Call of Duty, the two biggest first-person shooters out there. So it was no surprise that gamers bought one or the other and completely disregarded Titanfall 2.
It was an inept marketing decision by EA due to their constant need to try and eat into Activision’s market share in the genre. A much better way to do that would have been to release the game well ahead of those two giants, allowing players to enjoy Titanfall 2 while they waited for the next big shooter. EA treated the FPS genre as a market with different branching paths, they failed to understand that it is one market, one consumer, and by releasing two games so close together they forced their consumer base to choose, one or the other, which did not go down well for Titanfall 2.
Titanfall 2 needed to be perfect if it was to compete against the other shooters, especially considering its release date, and while Titanfall 2 was a great improvement on the first game, it still had lots of flaws in the gameplay that made it far from perfect. Flaws that definitely turned off some of its initial player base, exacerbating its difficult situation.
“Titanfall 2 needed to be perfect if it was to compete against the other shooters …”
Balancing issues were at the core of these problems (pun intended). Due to the nature of the game, Titans needed to be incredibly balanced so as to make the core gameplay feel fair and like every Titan is a viable option. At launch, however, certain Titans were broken and gave an unfair advantage to the players using the unbalanced Titans. While most of these balancing issues and changes to game modes have been addressed since its release, the game failed to cement a dedicated player base at launch, the most crucial time for a multiplayer game.
So what does this leave for the future of Titanfall?
The Franchise is now under full control of EA, due to EA’s recent acquisition of Respawn Entertainment, and with the current trend EA is setting for its properties, most recently the micro-transaction mess that was Battlefront 2, the future of Titanfall looks very grim as EA doesn’t seem to be backing away from its new found obsession with micro-transactions. This is sure to bring a downward spiral for the franchise.
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