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Respawn and EA dismiss release date problems for Titanfall 2

Developer claims “there was no changing” locked in launch, EA insists audiences are different

Titanfall 2 arrived on shelves last week with disappointing sales, largely attributed to it's launch between fellow EA shooter Battlefield and Activision's next Call of Duty. Both EA and Respawn have since attempted to explain why such a precarious release date was chosen.

The game's producer Drew McCoy told PlayStation LifeStyle it was unclear on which company decided on the launch date but claimed there was little flexibility.

"I actually don't know where the decision came from," he said. "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."

McCoy's pride in releasing a "good game" is well-founded given the positive reviews Titanfall 2 received, but whether it gets noticed remains to be seen until second week sales emerge next Monday.

It's possible either Respawn or EA were keen to get Titanfall 2 on shelves before Call of Duty, particularly given the history between the studio's founders and Infinity Ward, the studio behind this year's COD entry: Infinity Warfare.

Even if that's the case, releasing just one week after EA's own flagship shooter Battlefield 1 seems to have significantly damaged any chance Titanfall had of achieving decent sales. Respawn's sequel barely managed a quarter of the launch sales seen by the first game, which released in March 2013 and was only available on Xbox One and PC.

With consumers naturally limited on disposable income and leisure time, being put up against the more established Battlefield seems to have been a mistake. However, EA CEO Andrew Wilson reiterated that the publisher believed the audience for each game was different enough to justify releasing so near to each other, not to mention the market-leading rival.

GameSpot reports that during yesterday's earnings call, Wilson was asked if he would take a different approach in future when releasing two first-person shooters. While the CEO acknowledged that Battlefield and Titanfall "have some overlap", he insisted they "fulfil very different motivations in what a player is looking for".

"We think there's really three types of players," Wilson said. "People that really love Battlefield and that kind of big strategic gameplay that will orient in that direction; the player that loves the fast, fluid, kinetic gameplay of Titanfall 2 that really orient in that direction; and the player that just has to play the two greatest shooters this year and will buy both.  "And again, we're very very excited about the quality in both titles. We believe they both will have a long sale cycle, both this quarter through the festive season and deep into the years to come."

While it's true there are differences between the two games - one exploring a historical conflict, the other firmly in the futuristic sci-fi camp - ultimately they both appeal to the same audience: fans of first-person shooters. Both tick the same boxes: fast and frantic gameplay, varied weaponry, vehicular action, plenty of replay value via online multiplayer, and so on.

There's a chance Titanfall 2 could recover well beyond the second week. Triple-A shooters such as Battlefield and Call of Duty often see sales spikes around the launch of DLC, something EA and Respawn will no doubt be hoping for with Titanfall. The unusual strategy of providing all add-on maps and modes for free is an approach Wilson reports "is receiving really positive feedback".

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Latest comments (3)

Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 3 years ago
Big strategic vs. fluid kinetic, that is one hell of an arbitrary distinction drawn between two shooters. EA just has to look at their own service to see the overlap between owners of Battlefield and Titanfall. The real question being, whether they intentionally cannibalized themselves, or whether they hoped to oversaturate the two sides of the coin they made up in an attempt to cannibalize Call of Duty later. Did the saturation effect kick in too early? Will it still work against CoD? Was Titanfall just a convenien test balloon for such a strategy before Respawn moves on to Star Wars and bigger sales anyway? The way this story presents the reader with a final decision not making intuitive sense, certainly leaves a lot of room for speculation.
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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 3 years ago
The real question is how many underperformances it will take for publishers to finally spread out their release calendar. Titanfall would have owned March.
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Paul Jace Merchandiser 3 years ago
It sounds like both EA and Respawn are in denial. Sales can still pick up of course but they would have most likely done better if Titanfall 2 released sometime in early September.
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