I have little doubt that upcoming competitive shooter Titanfall will be a great game.
Enough people have tried and loved it in its pre-release stage to give me high hopes for the final product. (I have not.)
Where doubt seeps in for me is the game’s launch. Publisher EA has had far too many launch issues for its recent AAA games to ignore.
SimCity 5 was practically unplayable when it launched in March of 2013, largely thanks to the overwhelming demand for a game that was mysteriously online-only in spite of its single-player focus.
Battlefield 4 launched later the same year and while its issues were not quite as game-breaking, the shooter has been plagued with problems for weeks.
Titanfall doesn’t have the luxury these old, established IPs have.
As a new game from a new studio, and a game much-hyped as the big Xbox One system-seller of early 2014, a great deal rides on a successful launch. Since the game is online-only (there is no single-player campaign) the launch is even more crucial.
Microsoft’s Azure setup should be up to the task. The power and versatility of Microsoft’s Live Cloud set-up is the reason the game is an Xbox (and PC) exclusive, after all—you can read what Respawn has to say about that here.
But while a powerful, scalable server system is great for volume-related issues, there are plenty of other things that could go wrong.
Battlefield 4 wasn’t unplayable because too many people logged on at once. It was just riddled with game-breaking bugs.
That’s not how any game should be released, but at least EA can rest on its franchise’s laurels to some degree with an established series, knowing people will still play the next entry.
Titanfall needs to be perfect, as perfect as a Nintendo release, bug-free with flawless online.
There’s a lot going on in the game’s matches, with tons of AI and other moving pieces. Plenty of room for issues to arise, especially since Respawn is trying so many new things with Titanfall.
If it is, this could be a huge hit for EA and a rallying cry for the Xbox One which, while successful, still lags behind the PS4 in sales.
Imperfection might not spell doom for Respawn’s new IP, but it could leave a sour taste in gamers’ mouths.
Bad reports could keep potential Xbox One buyers at home.
EA will maintain its less-than-sterling reputation as a publisher that rushes its releases out the gates at the expense of the consumer.
I suspect all parties involved are fully aware of this, and the eternal optimist in me believes Titanfall will have a smooth launch.
After all, Microsoft is obviously invested in the game, releasing a special multiplayer patch for the Xbox One in anticipation of Titanfall’s launch.
But sometimes I think the eternal optimist in me views the world through rosy-tinted glasses.