Tomorrow Microsoft and Electronic Arts launch what is arguably the first must-have title for the 5 month old Xbox One gaming system. Titanfall is exclusive to the Xbox one gaming system. The game is a first person shooter where teams of players battle for dominance on foot and in giant robots called Titans.
The game is notable given the developers pedigree. The last time this team was given creative freedom they built the modern Call of Duty Franchise. Those games have been enormously successful and have consistently been the number one title for many years. Titanfall garnered dozens of awards at it’s 2013 debut. We have every sign that this title will be a huge hit.
For Microsoft – the success of Titanfall is critical to the success of the Xbox One gaming platform. Sony’s Playstation 4(PS4) console has taken a bit of an early lead in the latest console war. Some hard-core gamers see the PS4 as a superior system due to some early policy missteps by Microsoft and a minor performance edge on Sony’s system.
Titanfall represents an opportunity to change the tide in the console war. It provides users with a compelling reason to select the Xbox One console over the PS4.
For publisher Electronic Arts(EA) – Titanfall represents the opportunity to take the lead on the software side of game sales. Their fight with Activision has been a bitter one. Despite multiple attempts EA was unable to duplicate the success of Activision’s Call of Duty franchise. But as the saying goes if you can’t beat ‘em – steal the talent. EA was able to lure the creative talent behind the game away from the company. Officially the leadership of the franchise was fired for insubordination. This Ultimately resulted in a series of nasty lawsuits which were ultimately settled. For EA This game is a big deal. Electronic Arts has financially in recent years. The company has seen multiple layoffs and their stock is way off hit’s high of $65/share hitting a low of $11.41 in 2012. They need a big hit to stave off years of decline.
Both companies are going to pull out all the stops in terms of marketing. Expect a nonstop media campaign for the next 30 days. Followed up by significant quarterly marketing efforts once the company makes new downloadable content available for sale. The commercial blitz has already begun.
One nice change with the new consoles is that games are available for purchase in the online store on the same day that they are in their brick and mortar counterparts. However the ability to preorder content is conspicuously absent. After playing through the beta – it would have been logical to have a call to action asking the player to buy the game immediately. Players are only given options to pre-purchase the game at retail outlets.
It would make more sense to close the sale immediately. Allow the customer to buy the game now and preload his/her console with the content during the days leading up to the products release date. This would result in higher profits for the Microsoft, EA, and Respawn since retail would be removed from the equation. Given that this functionality is also absent from Sony’s platform – I believe this is a result of pressure from retailers like GameStop, Amazon, and BestBuy. Behold the retail compromise….
I played the Titanfall beta a few weeks ago and I had a great time. The game is beautiful, extremely accessible, the controls are great, and combat feels exciting and satisfying. The beta was very limited in scope (only a handful of maps, player characters, and giant robots) – but it was still extremely compelling and had me wanting more.
Cloud computing is a key technology for the Xbox One. The idea is to use Windows Azure cloud based services to offload certain computational tasks to the cloud. The idea is a sound one – use a vast network of external machines to provide additional computational horsepower; creating a better gaming experience. In Titanfall there are non-player characters that accompany the human players on the missions. The idea is that their presence will make the battlefield feel more alive. Cloud based intelligent agents can potentially illustrate complex behaviors at minimal computational cost.
In practice I haven’t been impressed by the AI units. They mostly mill around and act as humanoid targets for the opposing squad. The AI units are about as threatening as an empty soda can. There’s nothing special about the implementation of these AI characters.
The bottom line
Do you own an Xbox One and like first person games? If so run out and buy this game immediately.
Have you been thinking about purchasing an Xbox one but you were just looking for the right title – Then run out and buy the Xbox One/Titanfall bundle. It’s a great deal.
Titanfall will also be available for Windows PCs and the original Xbox 360.
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