The console wars have been largely a bust so far with so few decent games to try to compare. The most important comparison to us of course isn’t whether Sony or Microsoft’s console exclusives are “winning” but how a AAA multiplayer experience is doing against a AAA single player experience.
One is out and the other is not so this battle is yet to unfold of course. Titanfall was released to some pretty good scores and probably really good sales recently for Xbox One. So far the folks I’ve talked to about it have been impressed, very impressed. Since it is an online game it only has room to grow, a trait that single player only games mostly lack. Patches and DLC tend to annoy people as often as they enhance their gaming experience.
Titanfall benefited from a massive internet hype train. Communities, boards, and especially gaming websites and journalists were all over coverage of the game. Now that it has been released though, coverage has shifted to the other AAA arriving on the scene: inFamous Second Son. This game is a special case with unique pressures.
Let’s face it, Killzone: Shadow Fall fell short and so did Knack. PS4 gamers have since been treated to ports and bite sized entertainment that does not justify the $400 purchase. So Second Son is going to have to fill the role of PS4’s first real next gen game. I don’t care what anybody says, better graphics on games that also appear on last gen’s system aren’t truly next gen experiences. The last two inFamous games did pretty well with critics but weren’t exactly huge sellers. In addition to this there’s the fact that it is only a single player game. There has been no attempt to add multiplayer. Now, to me, that tells me that it is likely going to be a great deal better than if Sucker Punch had built the game with multiplayer in mind. As a single player adventure Second Son has some things going for it. Aside from the awesome-looking gameplay and great early impressions it has the benefit of being a social media darling. But can something survive without multiplayer these days? I think so, but the industry seems to feel the need to jam it in everywhere.
We won’t have real numbers on Titanfall for awhile, but even when we do it could be a difficult comparison. It will also release on 360 and PC, so sales might not be the best indicator. Scores could easily be used to ascertain which is better received but only on the front end. What will really matter is how much each game resonates in the public consciousness because that’s what other developers take their queues from. In that regard, single players need to hope for some high grades on Second Son.
I’m hoping the multiplayer games and single player games can co-exist separately. It would be naïve to think that the popularity of titles like these don’t matter though. After Call of Duty took the world by storm every game tried to be just like it and everyone tried to make an FPS to cash in. We will need more franchises like Destiny and The Order: 1886 to drop before we can establish trends this generation but I think watching how Second Son and Titanfall compare are a good way to get a reading on whether the balance will eventually tip in a positive or negative direction for single players.