News Article

Talking Point: Is Sony Putting Too Much Faith in the Killzone Franchise?

Posted by Sammy Barker

Hopes and Helghast

Let’s be brutally honest: Killzone has never quite reached its true potential. Despite the media pegging the original sci-fi shooter as Sony’s answer to Master Chief, the Guerrilla Games developed first-person franchise has struggled to appeal outside of its core community, garnering a vocal fanbase sans the mainstream appeal of Microsoft’s unstoppable Halo series. But with the Helghast playing a pivotal part in two of PlayStation’s biggest first-party releases this year, is the platform holder putting too much faith in a brand that has frequently failed to attract universal attention?

It’s clear that the publisher expects big things from its army of orange-eyed antagonists this year. Killzone: Mercenary is already being billed as one of the PlayStation Vita’s biggest releases in Western territories, promising a console quality experience on the handheld’s five-inch screen. It certainly looks the part; we’ve already spoken at length about how the pocketable powerhouse is leagues ahead of other handheld shooters on the platform. But does it have the brand appeal to really push sales of the struggling system, and is there a chance that it could get cannibalised by the imminent Killzone: Shadow Fall?

With the portable spin-off due out on 17th September in North America – incidentally the same day as a small game called Grand Theft Auto V – there’ll probably be two months between the title and its PlayStation 4 counterpart, which is set to release alongside the next generation platform in Holiday 2013. It’s true that both games are tackling a different aspect of the franchise’s fiction, with Killzone: Mercenary putting you behind the assault rifle of a ruthless gun-for-hire while Killzone: Shadow Fall assigns you with the badge of a Shadow Marshal tasked with keeping the peace between the Helghast and the Vektans. But despite the difference in content and themes, we’re not convinced that the games look unique enough to truly put distance between each other. And that’s a problem.

With a relatively small fanbase, some players may be forced to choose between titles, and that could result in neither reaching its full potential. Furthermore, with both games due out in such a short span of time, we’re concerned that the marketing will simply turn into white noise. Consumers – the Joe Sixpack types whose entire gaming diet revolves around Call of Duty and Madden – may lose interest in the games on account of the messaging being split across two different products on two different platforms within the same rough release window.

But worse than that, we’re just not sure that Killzone has the gravitas to sell consoles. It’s a great series – exceptional at times – but despite four releases across multiple PlayStation platforms, it still hasn’t quite captured the hearts of the mainstream consumer. Exact sales figures are hard to pinpoint, but it’s widely acknowledged that Killzone 2 strongly outsold its PS3 successor by some margin. It’s true that the second title benefitted from a prominent promotional campaign and a dearth of other exclusives at the time, but it still depicts a worrying decline. And even then, it took Killzone 2 approximately two months to surpass one million sales globally; Halo 3 hit 3.3 million units in just over a week in North America alone.

The series has always lingered on the cusp of greatness, so perhaps it’s finally the Helghast’s time to shine. Maybe the double-header of Killzone action will propel the franchise into the limelight that it’s always stood on the fringes of. We hope so, because the PS4 and Vita are both in need of a big commercial win – and there’s never been more pressure on those glowing orange-eyes to deliver on the promise that the media manufactured almost ten years ago.

Do you think that Sony is expecting too much from the Killzone franchise? Will the market tolerate two entries in the series within such a short span of time? Let us in the comments section and poll below.

Which upcoming Killzone titles do you intend to purchase? (39 votes)

Killzone: Mercenary


Killzone: Shadow Fall


I'm getting both of them


Neither, I can't stand the Killzone series


Please login to vote in this poll.

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User Comments (27)



naut said:

I can only speak for myself when I say I'm not remotely interested in KZ4 and it most certainly won't make me buy a PS3.



Paranoimia said:

I'll be getting both. I've loved the Killzone universe since the first game on PS2; I even re-bought it as Killzone HD on PS3.

I had both Halo 1 & 2 and never completed either - I found them tiresome, and really disliked the alien character design. I never did buy into the story, either - unlike with Killzone, which just struck a chord with me. I'm not overly interested in the multi-player with Killzone, but the single-player story has had me hooked since the beginning.

For me at least, it's one of the best series out there, so I'm not sure why it doesn't sell that well. Perhaps it's down to the number of quality titles available on PS3 forcing people to choose between games; if you've only got 1 or 2 top-notch exclusives, everyone's going to rush to buy them, giving you massive sales... if you've you've got 9 or 10 outstanding games, people will be more selective and not all of them will sell in large numbers.

Admittedly that last paragraph is biased, but not unreasonably so... after all, the reason I own a PlayStation is because it gives me more of the type of games I want to play. I've owned a 360 for around 14 months, but it's barely used.



hamispink said:

I'm getting both. I really liked Killzone 3, both single player and multiplayer, and I enjoyed Killzone 2's campaign. I'd say the franchise holds more clout than most playstation franchises, as it the last two entries have sold over 2.5 million units each. The only games that beat those numbers are LBP, GOW, Uncharted, and of course, Gran Turismo. I'd say Killzone is their best choice for both showing off both the power of the PS4, and giving people a quality shooter right from day one.

edit: I should also add that If Sony wants to gain more traction in America for both the PS4 and vita, a well-known shooter is a must, like it or not.



ShogunRok said:

I'll get Shadow Fall at launch as long as it's good enough. Mercenary hasn't got me excited yet.

Is Sony relying on the franchise too much? Maybe a little. I think the fact the two games release so close to each other (that is, if the PS4 isn't delayed) is a pretty substantial blunder. As soon as Shadow Fall was shown at Sony's PS4 event, I found myself thinking 'who's going to give a damn about Mercenary now?'

It's not like this is the first time we've seen Sony screw up with release windows, but this seems like it should have been avoidable at least to an extent. The Vita has been lacking huge releases for months now and Mercenary is still a long, long way away.

But when it comes down to it, the Killzone franchise is still relatively strong. Given the opportunity, it could be stronger though. The games desperately need better writing and better characters. They also need better multiplayer offerings, despite the fact I loved Killzone 2 for that very feature.

Really, Killzone is going to have to start trying to lead the genre - not follow it like Killzone 3 did. The second game was spectacular for the most part and I feel the third really squandered the perfect opportunity to hit the big time.

If Shadow Fall can't do it, as a launch game, then I think it may be the last Killzone game we see.



ScreamAimFire99 said:

I'm getting both. Mercenary will be the first GOOD FPS on the Vita. Shadow Fall will be quality as well. A launch title of that caliber is too good to pass up. September for Mercenary, November for Shadow Fall.



Squiggle55 said:

I will definitely be getting the Vita version, especially if it seems to have turned out as well as people to expect it to. I won't necessarily buy a PS4 for Killzone 4, but I'll be getting one eventually. At that point I would definitely buy the multiplayer separately, so I hope they sell it separately again.



IAmNotWill said:

They don't sell that well because the market is already saturated with FPS games. I really think they should give the series a break after these two. Too many games that have come out in this series in such a small amount of time.



charlesnarles said:

lol I've never played/owned any of them : |
Seemed like the series was made for dorky metalhead gamers who like WWII. Not that being that's bad thing, there's just not a lot of those anymore. I keep almost buying the collection, I've heard it's great from most folks



bauckster said:

I definitely would not buy a PS4 for Killzone, sorry. I'm not a huge FPS fan, but I do enjoy the occasional title or two. I thought the demos for Killzone 2 and 3 were both decent but not amazing enough to make me want to buy the games,



irken004 said:

I certainly want both, I'll definitely grab KZ Mercenary at least. Cue up a KZ vita bundle or a KZ PS4 bundle to sweeten the deal for non vita/PS4 owners



Snorky said:

Won't be getting it for the Vita, more looking forward to Soul Sacrifice. Then again, I haven't played any of the Killzone games. Console FPS just doesn't do it for me.



InsertNameHere said:

I don't feel like they're relying on Killzone too heavily much. I actually think Sony should put more of their weight behind it, just to get it out to the mainstream gamers.

As for which I plan on buying, the answer is both. I think being able to play Killzone while I'm not at home very appealing for some reason.



NathanUC said:

Since it's already been compared, I'll share my thoughts on KZ vs Halo

Halo 1 vs Killzone 1:
Not even a contest. Killzone 1 had a pretty cool story design and remotely fun multiplayer, but Halo had an amazing campaign with revolutionary multiplayer. Killzone 1 was glitchy, ugly, and short. Halo 1 was stable, stunning, and fairly long for the time.

Halo 2 vs Killzone 2:
Not a fair comparison but what the hey. Halo 2 was a massive step in the wrong direction in terms of the Halo story. The map designs were worse, the story telling was convoluted, and then guns weren't fun. It was still a fairly good multiplayer game, but overall, a disappointment I feel. Killzone 2 had amazing graphics, an ok story (nothing to brag about) and AMAZING multiplayer. It was a huge huge step forward for the FPS franchise.

Halo 3 vs Killzone 3:
No contenst.. Halo 3 was terrible and easily the worst in the franchise. The multiplayer was fun but the map/weapon designs were awful. It was, again, a huge step in the wrong direction. Killzone 3 had improved upon it's story and feel greatly while maintaining the stunning visuals and pristine audio. The multiplayer had more content and a few cool ideas, but overall was a bit worse than Killzone 2 due to some spawn issues.

OST isn't even worth mentioning.. Reach was much much better and was a very fun game both on and offline. It didn't pull me in like Killzone 2 or 3 for multiplayer, but it had it's charm. Halo 4 was a bit closer to the visuals of Killzone 3, but it was still noticeably more muddy with awful audio (in comparison).

TL;DR: Each Killzone released has pushed the bar higher and higher. Sony should be putting more into the series. I feel like it's never really received the love it deserves. It would be hard to find someone who enjoys FPS and still doesn't like Killzone (the only reason I can think of is fanboy'ism). Killzone 3 is the only game I've platinumed and still play because of well made it is. A good display with a nice 7.1 system... unbeatable this gen.



Valky said:

Sadly I never played a Killzone game, so far I only tried Resistance. I want to say that Sony, speaking of numbers and overall quality, has many more titles than Microsoft everyday.
Also, I tend to believe the problem of Killzone or other competing title is the "feeling that is somewhat a response to the Halo series, which was always the number 1 brand of Microsoft (with a very sad tone), we could say the Xbox would never be the same without it. I always see the Xbox somewhat aimed at the casual consumer, who can't understand/don't bother to understand. Leading him/her to believe it's just that.

Everyone of my friends who have an Xbox just keep saying to me that Halo and Gears of War are his/her ultimate fun, and no one even know about KZ or Resistance. They do know God of War and some of them actually own both consoles but still saying that Xbox titles are far more fun to them, along with the usual AC, ME, DeadSpace etc.
The usual stuff that we also get.



Solatorobo said:

Killzone is pretty much just a tech demo. Also more FPSes are the last thing we need.



Gamer83 said:

Killzone is Sony's premier FPS franchise so it has to rely on it, particularly in the shooter-happy North American market. I still prefer Halo but Killzone is right there with it on a technical level, production value is through the roof, and Killzone 2 & 3 are some of the most fun games this gen. The potential for a huge hit is certainly there, I just think Sony has failed miserably with the advertising for these games. If it pushes Killzone: Shadow Fall the way MS pushes the Halo games it could move plenty of PS4s off the shelves. Mercenary is another matter, the handheld market is much different from the home one so while it will certainly help the Vita, it won't be a major system-selling title. The good news though, is it does give those of us who want to experience a console-like FPS on the go something to look forward to.

To answer the poll question, I'm getting both games. Already have Mercenary pre-ordered and I'll pre-order Shadow Fall along with a PS4 as soon as stores start taking them.



Ginkgo said:

Only played Killzone 3 which I really enjoyed, though I thought Resistance 3 which came out at a similar time was much more engaging. Never played Halo as I dont have an XBox.

I am excited about the PS4 and will pick up Shadow Fall, but if Sony is expecting this to be a system seller, then I think they are wrong. I don't think it has a broad enough fan base to convert the XBox faithful.



FullbringIchigo said:

honestly i was never a fan of the killzone series i played them but they just don't connect with me if you know what i mean so it's not going to be the game that gets me to buy a PS4

then again i'm not that big of a halo fan either i liked the first, the second was ok but i hated the 3rd and never played the rest

honestly the game i see selling PS4's will be Uncharted IF they are making one for it that is



odd69 said:

I dislike killzone, it hasnt done anything for me. For me its just like every other standard shooter. i hate the control scheme for killzone 2. but im glad alot of people support it, its only good for PS. I just wont be the one



pokeystaples said:

I may be one of the few, but I am definitely picking up both. I was on the fence about buying a Vita until Killzone was announced. For me it is definitely a system seller. Killzone: Shadowfall as a launch title means I will be purchasing a PS4 at launch no matter what. I think that because Killzone doesn't do Halo, Gears, COD, Battlefield numbers people count it out, but the series has a following.



Chozo85 said:

I've never played a Killzone game but will definitely buy the vita version. Those dual analogue sticks are crying out for a good FPS after the crushing disappointments of Resistance and Cod. I agree with the sentiments of the article as far as the vita is concerned. No doubt Killzone will prove to be popular among existing owners, but I'm not sure it will sell too many systems on its own. The franchise simply doesn't have the mass market appeal of the Uncharted or even God of War series.



Advancedcaveman said:

What do you mean it "never reached it's potential?" The only potential Killzone ever had was to be a sweeping banner of utter mediocrity. A prime example of everything that's wrong with modern shooters. I'd say it's fulfilled that potential several times over.



Sanquine said:

i am picking both up. Do not know what people want above from a shooter;) If you play a shooter , play killzone. Better than cod for sure:)



FullbringIchigo said:

a lot of people like FPS games (just look at how much call of duty sells) so if sony think that by pushing killzone they can increase their sales of new consoles then good luck to them

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