After months of anticipation and intense speculation, the eagerly awaited multiplayer game Titanfall from Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:EA) has finally been released on the Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) Xbox 360 and Xbox One consoles, as well as the PC. Most early signs, including numerous reviews from established gaming sites, indicate that the video game is a success.
With so few blockbuster titles available on new video consoles at the moment, Titanfall is one of the most important releases of the next generation for both game publisher Electronic Arts and hardware manufacturer Microsoft.
Early reviews have been good but not great
As of March 13, Titanfall on the Xbox One console held a rating of 86 out of 100 on the popular ranking website Metacritic. Professional critical reviews from around the world provide the basis for this cumulative score. The game also held a user score rating of 6.1 out of 10.
Since many analysts and investors have posited whether Titanfall has the capability to be the next Halo, which was Microsoft's revolutionary first-person-shooter franchise, it is helpful to compare the scores of the games. Halo: Combat Evolved, which launched in 2003 as the first entry in the vaunted Halo series, currently holds a Metascore of 97 and a user score of 8.5. The series' latest entry Halo 4 released in 2012 and currently holds a Metascore of 87 and a user score of 6.9.
Last year, Halo 4 officially became Microsoft Game Studio's top-selling title of all time . However, even before this achievement the Halo series hit the 50 million lifetime units-sold mark in 2012.
While it has definitely been successful early on, Titanfall is clearly no Halo-in-the-making, at least not from a quality standpoint. Popular gaming website IGN gave the Xbox One version of the game a score of 8.9 out of 10, drawing several comparisons to the Halo franchise in the process. The website's reviewer concluded, "It's surprisingly lacking many accoutrements we've come to expect in a multiplayer shooter, but it nevertheless unites its elements in a cohesive, approachable way. Titanfall earns a seat at the table with the genre's entrenched powerhouses."
Looking back and considering the massive success that Halo has been and continues to be, it is clear that anyone who hoped that Titanfall would follow in the same exact footsteps of the former series was probably a little over-eager.
Potential impact on Electronic Arts and Microsoft
Just because Titanfall is not shaping up to be a Halo-sized success, this in no way means that the game can't help its publisher Electronic Arts and its exclusive console partner Microsoft take early leads in the next-generation console race. In many ways, only a relatively decent showing from Titanfall was necessary to assure the game's victory.
Titanfall represents Electronic Arts' strategy of creating high-quality games and remaining a diverse creator and publisher of content. With the company at least temporarily shelving unsuccessful multiplayer series like Medal of Honor, new additions to the genre like Titanfall have seen more pressure to succeed. Even a modest success, which Titanfall has already become, likely provides enough reason for Electronic Arts to justify moving forward with the series.
Meanwhile, Microsoft has been busy trying to lock down exclusive content for its Xbox consoles, and Titanfall stands as another reason for a consumer to go out and purchase an Xbox One over a Playstation 4. Game lineup decides the victor of each console generation, and in this regard Microsoft wants to remain aggressive. To best capitalize on exclusive rights in regard to Titanfall Microsoft is offering bundled packages of the game with Xbox One consoles, which basically means the game comes free with the purchase of an Xbox One.
Despite solid but not Halo-like reviews thus far, Titanfall has already succeeded for Electronic Arts and Microsoft simply by not being a bad release. The game is one of the few high-profile releases on next generation consoles right now, and it is even more rare in that it caters directly to online players.
Electronic Arts should be able to build off the success of Titanfall with an expansion of the game's universe, possibly on other platforms, in the future. Meanwhile, Microsoft should be able to sway multiplayer-oriented gamers over to its Xbox Live service as a result of the console's current exclusive partnership with Titanfall.
Philip Saglimbeni has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.