The general consensus seems to be that Titanfall 2 is very, very good. (We're still working on it, but the indications are very promising so far.) But as this CNBC report makes clear, making a good game does not necessarily guarantee commensurate riches. Electronic Arts' share price dropped by more than four percent today, following analyst predictions that Titanfall 2 sales will come in far below what was expected.
"We are downgrading EA shares ... because we believe that Titanfall 2 sales are going to be substantially disappointing, enough to offset [the] upside from Battlefield 1," Cowen & Co. analyst Doug Creutz wrote in a note to clients. "We expect a correction in shares between now and early next year as we believe the stock is priced for upside to current Street consensus."
Cowen had initially predicted Titanfall 2 sales of nine million units, according to Gamespot, but has now downgraded that estimate to 5-6 million. That's a big drop-off, and not nearly enough to count as a success for a big-budget, triple-A release: Battlefield 1, by comparison, was projected to hit 14 million unit sales, an estimate that has now been boosted to 16.5 million.
The problem isn't apparently the game itself, but the timing of its release. EA's belief, as explained earlier this year by CEO Andrew Wilson, that Titanfall 2 sales wouldn't be cannibalized by its proximity to Battlefield 1because it appeals to a different sort of audience, was apparently off-base.
"We think the game got squeezed between Battlefield 1 and [Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare]," Creutz wrote. "We suspect EA believed that by launching two shooters next to Call of Duty it could put a large dent in its biggest competitor, but instead EA appears to have wound up shooting its own foot off."
Titanfall 2 producer Drew McCoy told PlayStation LifeStyle that he wasn't sure who was responsible for the decision to drop the game between the year's two biggest shooters, but said it was made "a long time ago," and that changing it wasn't an option. "We tried not to [worry] really," he said. "When you care about what other games are doing, when they’re releasing, [you worry]. At the end of the day, we’re releasing a game that we’re happy with, and we enjoy playing, that we’re proud of. As long as we’re doing that, I think we’re gonna find an audience. It doesn’t really matter when it comes out. A good game gets noticed."
That's true to a point, but when there are a whole bunch of good games all being crammed out the door at the same time, some of them are bound to be overlooked. At last check, EA's shares had bounced back slightly and were trading at $79.72, which is good if you're a shareholder. But the greater concern for gamers is, if Titanfall 2 does underperform as badly as Cowen predicts, the likelihood of Titanfall 3 very suddenly becomes a lot less certain.