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Assassin’s Creed, Call of Duty, and Dragon Age: 2014′s holiday showdowns

Wednesday, 23rd July 2014 12:46 GMT By Brenna Hillier

This year pits some of the hottest properties in gaming against each other. What’s the line-up? Who will win? Has anything got a chance of outselling Call of Duty? We break it down.

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Destiny (September) vs Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel (October) vs Evolve (October) vs Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (November) vs Halo: The Master Chief Collection (November) vs Far Cry 4 (November)

With Battlefield: Hardline slipping to 2015 it’s easy to imagine that Advanced Warfare is the only shooter we’re getting. We tend to think of the end-of-year shooter showdown as “Call of Duty versus whatever EA fronts”. As with most years, that’s simply not true – the shooter genre is one of the most crowded, and there’s loads to choose from.

This year the real battle is once again for second place to Call of Duty, which is a pretty prestigious consolation prize.

We still expect Advanced Warfare to sell the most strongly, of course, because Call of Duty is one of the few franchises apart from Grand Theft Auto that can be relied upon to regularly churn up sales figures in the tens of millions. That said, Ghosts didn’t do quite as well as Black Ops 2, so maybe next year or the year after we’ll have a different champion in this category.

Anyway, this year the real battle is once again for second place to Call of Duty, which is a pretty prestigious consolation prize. And what a line-up we have! Let’s examine each of our champions in turn.

Destiny is the first off the bat, and it’s one we’re really excited about. Activision has been both generous and canny with its marketing, and the hype is through the roof. A genuinely excellent alpha and beta test has certainly helped; unless the Xbox end of things goes wildly wrong, Destiny has already proved to a huge number of people that’s it’s a hell of a game, and that the shared-worlds shooter is a genre with legs. If Bungie can just not fumble launch day, we expect this to really go places. It has a head start on the competition launching a few weeks earlier, too; by the time the holiday scuffle really starts, Destiny might have gathered serious momentum.

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2K has two entrants in October but they’re quire different. Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel is going to be more of the same, and that’s a good thing that fans of the series will enjoy, and are unlikely to pass up. It won’t do as well as a Gearbox-developed sequel would have, though; whether it’s a true thing or not, the studio change and interim timeline make it feel a little bit filler. Borderlands 2 sold absolutely gangbusters though, so if the hype machine kicks off at launch we may be proved merrily wrong.

Evolve is quite an exciting prospect. Turtle Rock made one of the best co-op shooter experiences ever, and now it’s doing it again, with a formula it’s been thinking up since the team got together. Four versus one, where one is a great big monster and the four are an arrangement of differentiated classes, each with several variants? That sounds amazing. Is it too high concept for the general gaming public, who still think the idea of killstreaks is legendary? Maybe. But we expect the message to spread, slowly but surely.

The smaller install base of the Xbox One will hinder it, but come on, it’s Halo: the Xbox One install base will grow to accommodate it.

Halo: the Master Chief Collection is definitely going to sell hugely because there’s not a Master Chief fanboy in the world who doesn’t want every Halo game again, playable with their Xbox Live friends, and slightly less likely to make their eyes bleed in repulsion at outdated graphics. The smaller install base of the Xbox One will hinder it, but come on, it’s Halo: the Xbox One install base will grow to accommodate it.

Finally, there’s Far Cry 4. Far Cry 3 brought the series out of cult classic territory and into the magical realms of blockbuster, and Ubisoft seems to have nailed down what it was that made that happen. It’s gonna happen again, for sure.

This is such a strong field that it’s hard to make a call, but I gotta say; I think Acti’s gonna make it two for two with Advanced Warfare and Destiny occupying the top spots on the charts by the end of the year.

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Disney Infinity 2.0: Marvel Super Heroes (September) vs Skylanders: Trap Team (October) vs LittleBigPlanet 3 (November)

Good old kids games (that we play ourselves). Disney Infinity is a new series, while Skylanders has several best-selling releases under its belt. That could influence things either way. On the one hand, established properties have an advantage, but on the other, franchise fatigue is a constant threat. Disney has a hell of a draw card with its catalogue of properties, and throwing Marvel into the mix certainly doesn’t undercut that.

Activision clammed up. That certainly doesn’t suggest Skylanders left its rival in the dust – quite the opposite.

Last time the two franchises went head to head their sales figures came out fairly equal over the holiday period, but we don’t know how things went after that because Activision clammed up. That certainly doesn’t suggest Skylanders left its rival in the dust – quite the opposite.

If we charitably assume the last two entrants sold an equal amount, then I’m tipping Disney Infinity to take the prize this time. This time around, Disney has an established fan and install base to grow from, while Skylanders is likely to have approached saturation point.

Next: racers, RPGs, horror and action adventure.

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9 Comments

  1. The_Red

    This is a rather interesting look at showdowns. The racing one is the closest (Seriously, all 3 focus on clubs/ groups / guilds / teams) while Assassin’s is the strangest (And as Brenna said, there’s a lot working against it, especially in this showdown).

    #1 3 months ago
  2. aaron_avelino

    I can’t believe you forgot to mention Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, which for me is a better rival to AC Unity. It’s my most anticipated game for this year.

    #2 3 months ago
  3. The_Red

    @aaron_avelino
    Holy hell, good call and that really IS the true rival for AC Unity.

    #3 3 months ago
  4. BrokenSpline

    @The_Red

    Not really a rival more like an unwanted step brother that imitates the older sibling. Sorry Shadow just looks and even plays like the original Assassin Creed and has nothing for itself other than being a action game based in the LOTR world. Not to mention there hasn’t been a good LOTR game since Lego LOTR series.

    #4 3 months ago
  5. The_Red

    @BrokenSpline
    I guess that’s why Shadow of Mordor was nominated for multiple E3 awards, had more wins than ACTUAL Assassin’s Creed and got the most positive impressions from many attendees and site members including GameSpot, Kotaku and Joystiq.

    #5 3 months ago
  6. aaron_avelino

    @BrokenSpline Basing on the previews i’ve read i think there is still something unique going on in that game like the Nemesis system, though i gotta admit that it has some AC in it but that’s not a bad thing cuz it’s possible for devs to be inspired by other well established games when creating their craft.

    #6 3 months ago
  7. 2021vince

    AC: Unity vs lotr is the better competitor and i dont understand how so many people can hate on this game for having similarities but love every batman that came out where was the out cry then???

    #7 3 months ago
  8. Brenna Hillier

    Shadow of Mordor! You’re right, I had completely forgotten that it exists. I can’t see it outselling Assassin’s Creed though. LotR is a sexy IP, but for one thing, people keep forgetting Shadow of Mordor exists… ;)

    #8 3 months ago
  9. felixbrownSLC

    Disney Infinity’s latest cast of characters broadens the demographic considerably and will be a monster hit. With game play improvements and incredibly appealing, recognizable figures, Infinty will not go away soon.

    #9 3 months ago

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