Electronic Arts has had a week to forget, as far as Twitter is concerned. After causing outrage with some poorly considered World War I memes on the Battlefield 1 account, the publisher got into hot water again today with Titanfall 2’s Twitter account — which, it turns out, may or may not speak for developer Respawn Entertainment.
The past two weeks have seen a crowded field for first-person shooters. Titanfall 2’s release seven days ago was sandwiched right between the launches of EA DICE’s Battlefield 1 (one week before it) and Infinity Ward’s Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare (today). It’s still surprising that EA would launch two of its biggest games of the season right next to each other, especially when they’re in the same genre.
Titanfall 2 has EA’s marketing muscle behind it, as well as plenty of critical acclaim — it currently has a Metacritic rating of 90 on both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Even so, the game was always in danger of falling between the cracks as the odd man out in the never-ending battle for supremacy between the two biggest military shooter franchises on the planet.
It’s too soon to say much about the sales performance of these three games. However, Titanfall 2’s first week — at least in the U.K. — wasn’t promising. The game failed to beat out the launch-week sales of the original Titanfall, which was never released on PS4.
On Twitter, meanwhile, the @Titanfallgame account has been doing exactly the kinds of things you would expect a brand’s account to do: posting positive opinions from critics and players in an effort to get people to buy Titanfall 2. That’s all well and good, but the account has also been taking potshots at the competition, including — albeit indirectly — Battlefield 1, which, again, is also published by EA.
Boy, that must have been pretty awkward for EA, since Battlefield 1 offers a $49.99 Premium Pass that includes four planned expansion packs. (Respawn has reminded people at every turn that Titanfall 2’s post-launch maps and modes will be free.)
A boastful tweet from the Titanfall 2 account today was much more overt — and decidedly less classy. Like an attack ad from a political campaign, it cherry-picked a negative quote from IGN’s in-progress review of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and juxtaposed it with a flattering phrase from the site’s Titanfall 2 review ... along with the hashtag #MakeTheRightCall.
That tweet went out just before 11 a.m. ET, and it looked even more silly two hours later, when Respawn’s official account tweeted a friendly note of congratulations to Infinity Ward for the launch of Infinite Warfare. (Respawn was founded in early 2010 by Jason West and Vince Zampella, who had been senior employees at Infinity Ward before they were fired by the studio’s parent company, Activision. Dozens of Infinity Ward developers ended up following West and Zampella to Respawn.)
Congrats to our good friends @InfinityWard on a great launch! We're looking forward to playing with you this weekend.— Respawn (@Respawn) November 4, 2016
Curiouser and curiouser. It almost seems like the folks at Respawn aren’t affiliated with the people who run the Titanfall 2 account — or perhaps they don’t want to be. Later this afternoon, the studio sent a tweet to publicly distance @Respawn from @Titanfallgame:
For the record: @respawn is the official voice of Respawn studio. We have nothing but respect & love for our fellow devs.— Respawn (@Respawn) November 4, 2016
It’s worth noting that while EA is the publisher of the Titanfall franchise, Respawn retains ownership of the intellectual property. So it’s possible that EA’s social media or marketing teams run the Titanfall 2 Twitter account rather than Respawn. We’ve reached out to EA to ask who handles the account, and we’ll update this article with any information we receive.