Is Titanfall really going to boost Xbox One sales that much?
It seems that Microsoft is betting on Titanfall a lot. It sure is a great game but, in the end, how much of a difference can it make on boosting Xbox One sales? Bear with my basic math and logic for a little while:
- Xbox One sits at an estimated 3.5 mil consoles sold, as of 15th February 2014 (source vgchartz.com).
- Microsoft is preparing an Xbox One Titanfall bundle, at the same price of the base model ($499), for a limited number of consoles (we don't know how many yet).
- Titanfall will be released simultaneously on Xbox One and PC, with a later release on Xbox 360.
- Even as a "next-gen console" exclusive, future installments of the Titanfall series will be multi-platform. Titanfall 2, in all probability, will come to PS4.
- Xbox 360 console sales are estimated at about 80 mil, as of 15th February 2014 (again, sourcevgchartz.com)
So, who will buy an Xbox One together with Titanfall? Or, more acurately, who will buy Titanfall together with an Xbox One? Remember, I'm not talking about the general Titanfall sales number here, as this will be very high, but the effect this game will have on fresh Xbox One sales, because that's what's Microsoft is really aiming for. After all, Microsoft ultimately wants to move consoles, not Titanfall copies.
- A lot of current Xbox One owners will get Titanfall. It's one of the main reasons they picked it over PS4 in the first place. Respawn announced 2 million unique users joining the beta on Xbox One (source), so it's safe to assume that most of these users will get the game. Probably even more, if we take into account the owners who didn't participate in the beta but will also get the game, as it's fame spreads around.
- A lot of PC users are going to get Titanfall. Based on the fact that Titanfall doesn't have huge PC requirements, combined with the fact that there isn't a huge multiplayer FPS release on the horizon, coupled also with the fact that Battlefield 4 and COD: Ghosts didn't manage to capture the audience's attention as much as previous installments, it's generally safe to assume that Titanfall will move a lot of copies on PC. These are sales that may come out of the "new" Xbox One sales that Microsoft is aiming for, to some extent (I personally fit in this category: I have a decent gaming machine, I like Titanfall, don't own a next-gen console yet, although I plan to get one in the future).
- Titanfall will move a lot of copies on Xbox 360, more than Xbox One and PC combined and possibly by a healthy margin. The 360 version of COD: Ghosts moved around 8 million copies (source vgcharz.com), so there is a huge number of players with existing hardware waiting to play a trully new experience like Titanfall. Taking into consideration the fact that the 360 and Xbox One versions doesn't differ gameplay-wise, a current Xbox360 owner who wants to simply play Titanfall will probably do so on the console he already has. This is a probable category of users that (Microsoft hopes) will bite the bullet and get a new console alongside Titanfall, though the steep price will arguably dissuade many of them, at least for the time being.
So, that leaves us with one general category of users that could further boost Xbox One sales (through the release of Titanfall), one that has two subcategories:
- People who already want to buy an Xbox One at some point in the future. These are the people that would get an Xbox One regardless of Titanfall, based on their personal preferences, but held off for some reason until now (game selection, price etc).
- People who want to get a next gen console in general, but haven't decided yet which one to choose. These people may or may not want to play Titanfall per se, but given that it's free in the bundle, even if they don't like it, it's hard to say no to a free triple-A title thrown in. Of those people, some will eventually choose the Xbox One, but others will opt for the PS4 in the end, based on their personal preferences.
So the only true "Xbox-One-through-Titanfall-sales" that Microsoft is aiming for, is this latter subcategory. People that haven't decided yet what to do, regarding nex-gen consoles and don't have a strong personal preference for other consoles too. To add up to the above equation, one must also consider the general direction of things: people who want to buy a next-gen console (and an expensive one, at that) need to know that their investment will also live up for a lot of years. Granted, Xbox One will see the majority of multiplatform titles, but the most valuable asset of a platform is, in essence, the number of users it manages to accumulate, because "a lot" of users attract even more users. So even if a gamer wants to play Titanfall and get a new console with it, he must also consider what gaming systems his friends have or what they're going to get (in order to play with them, exchange games, bring his controller and multi-play at another one's house). If his friends and/or general cycle gets a PS4, chances are, he's going to get one too.
Microsoft has an uphill battle to fight here. Titanfall is good, and that's the great part for Microsoft, but for Titanfall (or any other title) to make a sizable boost on Xbox One sales, it should have been a true exclusive, for the duration of said title's lifetime (including sequels), like all current and previous system sellers (Zelda and Mario titles for Nintendo, Halo and Gears of War for Xbox 360, God of War and Gran Turismo for PS3, etc). Based on all the above, my personal estimation is that Microsoft will see a general growth of Xbox One sales, a "mini-boost" even (think double or triple the sales figures on some markets, for a period of months), given the limited nature of the bundle and the general excitement associated with big game releases, but in the long run, the status quo will remain unchanged: PS4 is going to outsell the Xbox One for the majority of this console's cylce duration.