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From Dog House To Penthouse - Why Titanfall Matters…

Just when you think all the drama from E3 is over and you've escaped the scuffle, something draws you back into the fray causing you to break radio silence. I should've known better, but when I saw Mike Futter's news post about the Game Critics Awards, I couldn't resist taking a peek. I went in expecting something much worse than what I saw.

The Game Critics Awards results are quite revealing about the state of the video game industry and even though there are a couple of items I could talk about further (like the fact 11 of the 14 award winners will be available on the PC) the only thing I'm really going to talk about is...

Titanfall.

And why wouldn't that be it? Winning a record setting six awards, that's worth talking about. Of course there are a lot of disgruntled community members sharing their thoughts on the news in the comment section with the general consensus being - the game was good, but not that good.

Now, I'm not going to talk about whether the game is good or not. Obviously, that's a personal choice. I'm certainly not going to try and persuade anybody from changing their mind about it. But what I am going to comment on is how it won so many awards and why I'm happy it did.

There are 30 independent publications that vote on the Game Critics Awards: Best of E3 2013. You can find the complete list here.

I think the fact it won so many awards is significant for a few different reasons.

First and foremost, with the Playstation 4 and Xbox One being shown off for their upcoming release, there were quite a few exclusives on display. For the game to receive that many awards it must've impressed a majority of the industry experts. I mean, if you trust the integrity of the vote and don't think it was rigged, they must've witnessed something truly amazing.

Apparently it's more than just a big Rock 'Em Sock 'Em robot fighting game.

Really though, that's not why I think it's a big deal.

It wasn't all that long ago when we were talking about the big Activision versus Infinity Ward lawsuit. I was never all that interested in the whole episode - it certainly wasn't the first time we've seen controversy between the developers and publishers. Most of us predicted it would be settled out of court - which it was. And something tells me both parties probably pocketed some money in the compromise.

 In the days following, Respawn Entertainment was born.

I don't know the exact numbers, but from what I've read there were about 100 employees at Infinity Ward - half of them resigned or were fired after Jason West and Vince Zampella were fired. Nearly all of the employees who resigned or fired now work at Respawn Entertainment.

Back in February 2013, Vince Zampella made the comment via Twitter he would be at E3 2013 and wouldn't be showing up empty-handed.

True to his word, he not only showed up, he didn't come empty handed.

So, here's a development team that went from being one of the most profitable and successful teams in the history of video games, and practically overnight, they are unemployed and essentially stripped of the rights to their intellectual property...an intellectual property that has probably made more money than any other video game in the history of gaming.

Hard to believe in such a short time this brand new developer managed to create a new title and turn it into something so special...something that has apparently caught the eye of so many. They've truly went from the dog house (back) to the penthouse - a position they're much more accustomed to.

I have to be honest...I was doubtful of Zampella's "wouldn't be showing up empty-handed" comment. Creating a blockbuster video game is hard work...but establishing a studio from the ground up and then creating a game of that magnitude seems all but impossible. After E3 I started reading and researching more and more about Titanfall and Respawn Entertainment. One of the things I discovered I was most interested in was the support and devotion shown to Vince Zampella from his team. A number of his co-workers had nothing but praise for him, and given so many of them left a lucrative gig at Infinity Ward to follow him to a new company with no track record, it illustrates a level of loyalty that is both unique and commendable.

It reminds me of a scene from A Knight's Tale (one of my favorite movies) where Prince Edward tells William...

"Your men love you. If I knew nothing else about you, that would be enough."

I certainly don't think Respawn Entertainment is a little guy or underdog, especially not after seeing the results of the Game Critics Awards, but now more than ever I want Titanfall to succeed because I want to see Respawn Entertainment succeed because I want to see Vince Zampella succeed.

There is a part of me that wonders if Titanfall performed so well because it has stunning graphics, cutting edge game play and innovative new features, but a small part of me wants to believe it's because sometimes the good guy does win, or finish first, or get the girl, or save the day...

...or maybe it's just the prospect of fighting giant robots.

Regardless, I applaud Vince Zampella and Respawn Entertainment for a truly noteworthy accomplishment and look forward to supporting their company by purchasing the game when it ships, not just because it's going to be an amazing experience, but because of how much they love the game.

If I knew nothing else, that would be enough.

 

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