This week, Microsoft and Electronic Arts will launch “Titanfall” as an exclusive title for the Xbox One, Xbox 360, and Windows PCs.
Microsoft and its partners are betting heavily that the game, a first-person shoot ‘em up in which players can pilot giant mechs, will prove a blockbuster. Microsoft certainly needs a massive hit to establish the Xbox One, which is locked in fierce competition with Sony’s PlayStation 4, as a force in the gaming world. Boosting that pressure is the fact that Sony, at the beginning of February, announced that it had sold 5.3 million PlayStation 4 units worldwide—possibly enough to give it the lead in the current-gen console wars.
The PlayStation 4 also enjoys a cost advantage over the Xbox One, retailing for roughly $100 less. Current rumors suggest that, in a bid to lower costs, Microsoft will unbundle the Kinect motion controller from the Xbox One; barring such a maneuver or price-cut, though, the company will have to rely on a superior portfolio of games to help it beat Sony. “The next nine months are really critical for Xbox One. Titanfall is huge in that respect,” game analyst David Cole told The New York Times.
But can “Titanfall” live up to those expectations? The game won a number of awards before it even hit the market, and its creators are pumping considerable resources into promotion (including a high-profile launch event at this year’s South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas). But means it can’t just sell well—it needs to be the sort of hit that generates sequels, tie-in novels, action figures, and all the other products that constitute a “franchise.” In other words, “Titanfall” needs to be the next “Halo.”
Image: Respawn/Electronic Arts