These are the words the analysts at Cowen & Company are using to describe updated projected sales numbers for Titanfall 2, the triple-A shooter released last week by publisher Electronic Arts and developer Respawn Entertainment. The research outlet had initially predicted 9 million units sold for Titanfall 2 but based on recent estimates during launch week, have downgraded that number significantly to the 5-6 million range, now claiming what we all knew already - that EA choose an awful release date for their second big shooter (Battlefield 1 being the first and their flaghship shooter this year).
That's really, really bad. And it's unfair for Respawn who delivered big time with Titanfall 2, a game that lives up to the promises of the first game. To compare the numbers, the original Titanfall - which only released on Xbox platforms and PC - reached "almost 11 million unique players" according to Respawn Entertainment Art Director Joel Emslie and Chief Operating Officer Dusty Welch. That number of course, isn't representative of actual sales, and certainly not full retail sales since we know first-hand that the game didn't maintain activity too long after launch, especially on PC where the community died off shockingly quickly due to lack of content. But it demonstrates that despite overwhelmingly positive reviews and the expansion to the PlayStation platform, the Titanfall sequel is selling substantially less.
Reports from market research firm GfK on physical unit sales in the UK show Titanfall 2 earning an abysmal quarter of the sales number of its predecessor despite now being available on PlayStation 4 as well. This however, does not account for digital, but delivers the same message. The series has trended downward with its second installment.
It's Not Just The Release Date to Blame
Again, the release date is taking a lot of the blame since EA intentionally scheduled Titanfall 2's release date just one week after Battlefield 1 (which is outperforming its high forecasts) and only one week before the king of the genre, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. Their goal was to offer two wholly different shooters in an effort to take a bite out of the competition in a year where Call of Duty is taking on record levels of negative buzz.
The other reason that's not getting talked about enough is that we believe the reception of the first Titanfall is having a negative impact on the popularity of Titanfall 2 - and this point isn't being talked about much. When Titanfall debuted as a "launch window" title for Xbox in March 11, 2014 it received wide critical praise, despite its lack of multiplayer progression systems, content, and single-player campaign. What those reviews as a whole didn't do a fair job of criticizing is the life expectancy and total value of Titanfall as a full retail project compared to other triple-A shooters.
And now that Titanfall 2 is here, iterating on Titanfall's amazing gameplay mechanics, and fleshing out multiplayer while adding a fun story campaign, the reviews are largely the same.
- Titanfall 1 on Metacritic: 4.5/5
- Titanfall 2 on Metacritic: 4.5/5
Early 2014 to late 2016 is not a long time to forget the lasting feeling Titanfall gave a lot of gamers who felt they didn't get enough value from the first game; for PC players to forget the empty multiplayer lobbies; or PS4 owners to remember being shafted on the first game and not able to play it. There's a significant potential for negativity or lack of interest that's not being analyzed beyond the tough release date challenges Titanfall 2 is facing.
Titanfall 1 deserved praise for its wonderful ideas but it didn't capitalize or fully deliver on those in terms of content offerings so given how much we enjoy Titanfall 2, it should have something like a 6.5/5 on Metacritic by comparison and by comparison to other shooters back in 2014. But that's not how it works or how it looks which is part of the problem.
Titanfall 2 Is A Must-Play Shooter
This all brings us to our main point: Titanfall 2 deserves your attention. It's an amazing shooter and a legitimate contender for game of the year. It improves and fleshes out what the first game offered in almost every way. There are far more weapons, gadgets, abilities and unlocks. There are some entirely new modes. And there's a fun-focused story campaign that experiments with crazy ideas for the purposes for doing something different and unexpected. On top of that, future maps and modes are all free meaning Respawn is avoiding segmenting the player base as the game evolves. Everything is better this time around!
The story has goofy dialogue, and arcade-style boss battle intros, and it even begins with a generic tutorial and stars a generic white guy named Jack Cooper, but it's not generic. Not at all.
After the intro, and when the player's Vanguard-class Titan BT-7274 (referred to as "BT") really steps into the picture, the game becomes so much more. Titanfall 2 will make players feel for their robotic ally. It uses some crazy and unexpected plot devices to change gameplay in drastic ways from mission to mission. It features amazing set pieces, some gorgeous visual design, and takes advantage of the lore the first game loosely introduced.
With how quickly Respawn was able to add to and tweak the multiplayer with Titanfall 1 we suspect there's much to look forward to with the sequel. Although with a smaller player base in total split across three platforms that don't crossover in any way, there's the possibility that the amount of modes may need to be reduced to keep lobbies active for the matchmaker to work long-term. With that mind, one thing that still bothers us with Titanfall 2 - and the same problem applies to Battlefield 1 and all EA releases - is that there's no cross-platform support. Even when it comes to progression. So, if you're like me and play on PC and consoles, even if you you're using the same EA Origin account across the board, your accounts are separate. EA needs to take a page out of the Microsoft Windows 10/Xbox book as soon as possible. No one should have to re-unlock the same things on the same account for the same game.
That's a unique and rare case though. Go play Titanfall 2. You'll love the wall-running, sliding, and new abilities!
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Titanfall 2 is available on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. We've played the game on all platforms.