Microsoft fired up about ‘Titanfall’ debut
The game is expected to be a blockbuster akin to “Halo” or “Call of Duty” — so much so that Microsoft hopes it will help boost sales of its Xbox One console in a big way.
Seattle Times technology reporter
Microsoft pulled out some big guns for the Tuesday launch of “Titanfall,” the highly anticipated video game it hopes will be a blockbuster and goose sales of its Xbox One console.
There are, of course, big guns galore in “Titanfall,” a first-person shooter game played online with others.
There are also the big-name celebrities Microsoft lined up to attend some of the midnight launch parties scheduled Monday at several Microsoft Stores around the country. (Almost all Microsoft’s retail stores were scheduled to hold launch parties Monday evening.)
Among those celebs was Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, scheduled to appear Monday night at the University Village and Bellevue Square Microsoft Stores.
There were also launch events scheduled worldwide, including in Austin, Texas (at the South by Southwest festival), London and Toronto.
It was all in service of the biggest gun of all: “Titanfall” itself. The game is coming at a crucial time for the Xbox One console, the sales of which have fallen behind those of Sony’s PlayStation 4.
“For us, ‘Titanfall’ is really an important moment in the early stages of Xbox One,” said Yusuf Mehdi, chief marketing and strategy officer for Xbox. “It’s taking advantage of the Xbox platform — for example, the cloud servers to showcase the speed and fluidity of the title. It’s the type of game that has people wanting to buy a brand new console.”
The creation of Respawn Entertainment, and published by Electronic Arts, “Titanfall” is seen as a potential blockbuster game, akin to “Halo” and “Call of Duty.”
It already has garnered good reviews and generated weeks of social-media buzz.
Important for Microsoft, “Titanfall” is also coming as exclusive to its platforms. The game launches Tuesday in North America for Xbox One and Windows PCs. It launches March 25 for the older Xbox 360.
Microsoft is hoping that exclusive deal gives people reason to choose its Xbox One console, which sells for $500 and includes the Kinect motion-and-voice sensor, over the PlayStation 4, which is $100 cheaper.
Indeed, Microsoft is offering a deal on a “Titanfall” bundle that includes the console, game and a month of Xbox Live Gold membership for $500.
(A $60-a-year Xbox Live Gold subscription service membership is required to play “Titanfall.” The service also offers entertainment options, including the ability to stream movies and TV shows and to access apps such as Netflix.)
Microsoft launched the Xbox One console Nov. 22, and it sold well over the holiday season.
The company said it sold 3.9 million consoles through the end of 2013 — the most recent sales figure it has released. It also said the Xbox One was the sales leader among consoles sold in December, citing figures from research firm NPD Group.
Sony, meanwhile, which launched its PlayStation 4 on Nov. 15, said it had sold 4.2 million consoles by the end of 2013.
The company said the PlayStation 4 was the top-selling console in the U.S. in January.
And last week, Sony said it had sold 6 million PlayStation 4 units as of March 2.
Although the PlayStation 4 has aced Xbox One in sales so far, Mehdi said, “We feel good about the [Xbox One] price. It’s always a combination of price and value.
“We try to provide something that you can’t get anywhere else. You get live TV integration, you have the Kinect that allows you voice control, you have some unique things like NFL interactive,” Mehdi said. “We think there’s great value there.”
Janet I. Tu: 206-464-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @janettu.