10 reasons why Titanfall 2 will slip to March 2017
Every Christmas a number of highly anticipated games slip into the following year and Titanfall 2 is a prime candidate to do the same.
With the dust settled on another epic instalment of the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), a closer look at the resulting release schedule reveals a major anomaly. Currently, publisher Electronic Arts is set to release first-person shooter Battlefield 1 on 21 October for PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4. One week later, on 28 October, Electronic Arts is set to release first-person shooter Titanfall 2 on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Can you see the problem?
Revitalising fan interest in the series with its World War I setting and 64-player multiplayer showing at E3, Battlefield 1 is the fifth game in this beloved series and a genuine blockbuster that will sell well. The original Titanfall, on the other hand, did well for a new IP. It launched in 2014 and maximised developer Respawn Entertainment’s pedigree, founded as it was by the same duo (Jason West and Vince Zampella) who created Medal of Honor and Call of Duty. EA has been cagey on its sale numbers, but it’s somewhere between five million and seven million; very solid.
Both games are multiplayer-focused, first-person shooters. Both games are published by Electronic Arts. Both games are launching on the same formats. And while they vary in setting (WWI and science-fiction respectively), the crossover in potential install base is significant. To quote Cartman, releasing them within a week of each other “doesn’t make any sense”.
Here’s 10 damn good reasons why Titanfall 2 is unlikely to release in 2016.
Will Titanfall 2 be delayed to March 2017?
The Argument For
- Too much competition: Locked and loaded for Christmas 2016 and unlikely to move release date because of their pre-existing blockbuster status are Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Battlefield 1 and the Star Wars Battlefront “Death Star” DLC. We can also expect Overwatch to sell well given the huge critical and commercial momentum it has built. That’s a lot of heavyweight first-person shooter competition to go up against. And while not strictly within the same genre, you could argue the multiplayer component of Gears of War 4 (releasing two weeks earlier) will also eat up some of the audience.
- Cannibalises EA’s roster: Why would a publisher release competition to its own game within a week of it launching? While releasing DLC for Star Wars Battlefront – also an Electronic Arts game – talks to existing product, Battlefield 1 will be directly marketed to the as a new title to the same audience as Titanfall 2. EA will do itself (and Respawn) a major disservice by releasing the two games in such proximity to each other.
- The Battlefield Hardline precedent: Electronic Arts has delayed big name games before when it felt the release window was not right. Look at Battlefield Hardline, which was originally set for a 21 October 2014 release date. Then on 22 July of that year – after E3 – it was pushed back to 17 March 17 2015. The reason given was a generic “due to consumer feedback”.
- It would still be on target: On 29 January this year, the existence of Titanfall 2 was first confirmed by EA and – alongside Battlefield 1 and Mass Effect Andromeda – investors were told it would release in the 2017 fiscal year. This runs through to March 2017, so a release before then would keep it in the company’s desired release frame and in the window pitched to investors.
- Keeping to routine: The giant publishers have many moving parts and when it comes to franchises, the easiest way to keep the machine moving smoothly is to stick with a routine. This is why you can almost guess the release dates for established series like FIFA and Call of Duty ahead of their announcements. Stick with a known date and all the PR, marketing and event plans from the last release can be copy and pasted. Considering that, it’s worth noting than that the first Titanfall was released in March.
- It’s still a new IP: While it’s true that Titanfall did do solid numbers for a new IP, it was only available on Xbox and PC. The first game did not arrive on PlayStation 4, the best-selling console of this generation by a stretch. For this 40-million strong audience, Titanfall remains an unknown new IP, and new IPs need space away from the well-known blockbusters filling shelves during the Christmas rush.
Note: If you need further evidence that this should be a concern, look to EA’s own Mass Effect. The original launched only on Xbox 360, but the sequel released on both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. However, the sequel sold twice as many on Xbox 360 where it was a known IP.
- Pre-order work is done: One of the main reasons why a publisher might consider providing a false release date is to gauge consumer interest. Pre-orders are a key indicator for this, especially in the eyes of the retail sector where staff need to predict how many copies of a game they should order in advance of a release. Thanks to the E3 showing and the October release date, Electronic Arts would have got the feedback it wanted from the pre-order uptake, which it can use to help guide the investment in promotion required through to the new March release.
- Beta bugs: At E3 2016, Respawn Entertainment confirmed that there would be a multiplayer beta for Titanfall 2, but as of this writing, the beta has not occurred or even been granted a start date. With every passing minute bringing us closer to October 28, the proximity of the beta to the proposed launch doesn’t leave much time for the correction of any significant issues – especially on the untested PS4. Plus, announcing a delay on the same day you reveal a start date for the beta would be a beautifully convenient way to dampening fan discontent.
- March is clear: While we are still a long way out and there could be a number of changes to the release calendar, as it currently stands – and as history would tell us – March is a pretty clear month for first-person shooters. As it stands, there is no direct competition announced for March 2017, with the closest being Horizon: Zero Dawn (a PS4 exclusive) in late February and strategy-shooter Ghost Recon Wildlands in early March.
- Nintendo NX launch title?: A launch window is a great change for an IP to generate a long-standing fan base as the library of available titles is so small. Sources have indicated that EA will be supporting the Nintendo NX launch in style, with FIFA 17, Mass Effect Andromeda and Battlefield 1 scheduled. While porting Battlefield 1 across would provide a first-person shooter experience, the fact that it will be five months old by that point would leave the door open to Titanfall 2 being the NX shooter of choice if it was to launch alongside the console as well as on other platforms.
The Argument Against
- Electronic Arts said it would release Titanfall 2 on 28 October, and we should trust them, right?
So now that you have weighed up the evidence, what do you think? Let us know in the comments below.