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.
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.
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.
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.