Titanfall

Titanfall, Titanfall, Titanfall. If you’ve been following Microsoft or any Xbox-related news, that’s likely all you’ve been hearing for the past few weeks. Microsoft recently bragged about the Titanfall Beta — which they later opened up to all Xbox One and PC users — achieving two million players and also announced a limited Xbox One bundle featuring the game and other goodies for the same price as the basic console. They have now planned 6,000 launch parties at retailers nationwide and a South by Southwest (SXSW) event before its release. This doesn’t even take into consideration the attention Microsoft was giving to its themed Titanfall Xbox One controller back in January. So yeah, Microsoft has been rather fixated on Titanfall lately.

But who could blame them? They snagged a cool-looking, first-person mech shooter by Respawn Entertainment, the studio made up of developers responsible for the Call of Duty series. With the crazy mainstream appeal the Call of Duty games receive, Titanfall is guaranteed to be a best seller. On top of that, Microsoft secured exclusive rights to Titanfall from its publisher, EA, securing the first game that will stay on Xbox and PC platforms. With all this considered, Microsoft has every right to be excited.

Titanfall 01The problem, however, is that Microsoft is proclaiming Titanfall as the savior for the sales trouble that the Xbox One has experienced lately. It sounds a bit absurd that a console that sold over 3 million units in about three months of its launch is having trouble, but compared to the 5.3 million PS4 units sold by Sony, Microsoft’s numbers don’t seem so great. Now, it’s fair to say those number comparisons doesn’t mean the Xbox One is in danger, but when it’s being outsold 2-1 by the still hard-to-find PS4 in North America, there’s a need for concern.

It’s not just about the Xbox One failing to keep its American dominance from its predecessor, the Xbox 360. It’s various reports of Microsoft’s next-gen console being outsold worldwide by the PS4. Judging by how poorly the Xbox 360 has done in Japan, there’s little hope of the Xbox One faring any better against the recently launched PS4.

The general opinion as to why the PS4 is selling better than the Xbox One right now is that it’s $100 cheaper. Many analysts have suggested Microsoft to drop the Kinect in order to bring the Xbox One’s $499 price down, but the company is adamant about not losing the system’s key feature. Microsoft has also been forced to play defense regarding the Xbox One’s power, with many titles like Call of Duty: Ghosts and Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition failing to attain the same graphical performance as the PS4. Even Titanfall won’t achieve the 1080p resolution and has seen rumors of it dropping to 720p. Needless to say, people don’t like to hear that the pricey console they just purchased is significantly weaker than its competition.

The mentality that Microsoft has about Titanfall “saving the Xbox One” is similar to the obsession Nintendo has in finding that one game to save the Wii U. Nintendo president and CEO, Satoru Iwata, gambled on Super Mario 3D World revitalizing the Wii U in sales last year. Despite seeing a short-lived hardware sales bump in Japan, the Wii U failed to gain any momentum at all in Western territories, which contributed to Nintendo’s reducing its 2013 sales projection for the system from an overblown 9 million to a measly 2.8 million. Nintendo is once again taking a gamble on Mario Kart 8 saving the Wii U when it launches worldwide this May. However, just like Super Mario 3D World, any surge in Wii U sales by Mario Kart 8 will only be temporarily.

Titanfall 05That’s the situation Microsoft is facing with Titanfall and the Xbox One. Yes, the game will certainly do well when it’s released on March 11th and the Xbox One will definitely see a good sales bump, thanks to the limited bundle, but it won’t last. To keep that sales momentum going, Microsoft needs another game like Titanfall to generate that type of excitement from outside players — a game that screams, “Yes, I need an Xbox One to play this!” or “Yes, I need to play this version on the Xbox One!” and be released within a reasonable time frame.

For Microsoft to regain momentum for the Xbox One, they need to prove their system has the best exclusives and is more than capable of matching the PS4 in power. It’s even more important than ever for Microsoft to prove the Xbox One is worth purchasing with it being the priciest console on the market.

Don’t want to drop the Kinect? That’s fine, Microsoft. Give me a game that proves the Kinect’s potential, like Wii Sports did for the Wii. Don’t want everyone to second-guess the Xbox One’s hardware? Let’s see more games hitting the 1080p/60fps benchmark instead of tossing the issue aside like nonsense. You know that awesome Xbox Live Games for Gold program — where you keep the games, even after you unsubscribe, like PlayStation Plus — you have for 360 users, Microsoft? Let’s try implementing that on the Xbox One. It may soften the blow for those early adapters who bought your console at launch and undeniably got the worse deal in comparison to the Titanfall bundle.

The situation isn’t as dire for the Xbox One as it seems; accumulating over 3 million sales worldwide within a short time limit is nothing to scoff at. It also appears third-party developers are starting to get the hang of working on the Xbox One and can finally utilize its full power, if news of Wolfenstein: The New Order being 1080p/60fps on the system is anything to go by. But to match the goodwill and sales that Sony earned from the PS4, Microsoft will need more. Titanfall alone doesn’t justify an Xbox One, but it’s a start.