Why Is EA's Latest Shooter Already Dying?

Sometimes not even just making a good game is enough and developers are beholden to the decisions of their publisher.

By Daavpuke, Posted 19 Jul 2020

Publisher Electronic Arts (EA) is one of the largest game companies on the planet, which should indicate that their releases can expect some serious push behind them. That notion, however, doesn't really seem to be true at the moment. Take into account the following example: Rocket Arena.

EA, Rocket Arena, Steam, Steamchart

Rocket Arena was released on July 14, 2020 on PC. The game is an adaptation of a popular mod from old arena shooters, where the goal is more centered on pushing enemies out of bounds, than it is picking people off. Despite its recent release, Rocket Arena is currently sitting at around 300 players on Steam, with a peak that barely scrapes by 500 and that's during the release period that should be its busiest window. Unlike previous releases, the shooter isn't even locked into EA's Origin platform, but it still fails to grab an audience. 

One reason that could be attributed to this sluggishness is that the game is currently selling for €29,99. With EA themselves offering a competitor within the same realm for free with Apex Legends, it's also harder to sell Rocket Arena, particularly when the latter receives more attention from the company. A lot of the time when news like this comes out, many people echo that this is the first they've heard of a game. While Rocket Arena did get some screen time during some recent online events, it can hardly rely on an extensive marketing campaign. The game sort of just launched and that's all there was to it.

Another recent title, Quantum League, offers time manipulation in its shooter model, which transforms it into a tactical game, the likes of Frozen Synapse. This PC game, selling at €18.99, currently barely has a dozen players, which is pretty much a death sentence. While Quantum League is still in Early Access on Steam and could get some revival potential around its full launch, it's hard to imagine any title bouncing back from this.

We've seen this phenomenon happen before, when Lawbreakers launched for €29.99, during a time when people had already decided on their favorite shooter. Lawbreakers went free shortly after; ultimately shutting down, together with the entire developer studio from Cliff Bleszinski, Boss Key Studios.

EA, Rocket Arena, Steam, Steamchart EA, Quantum League, Steam, Steamchart

The commonality here is that these games are currently fighting for a crowded spot within the shooter space, while also charging a fee. In comparison, publisher Ubisoft launched Hyper Scape recently and that battle royale, amidst a sea of competitors, is still seeing regular play time, because it's free. There is no risk in playing it and no barrier to entry. You'd think people would be more open to trying things during the pandemic, but the reality is also that gaming as a hobby is expensive and during a recession that means that choices have to be made. Likely, the gaming audience is going to pick vetted blockbusters like The Last of Us 2 or Ghost of Tsushima as their expenses, while relying on free-to-play games elsewhere. Hell, one of the current best sellers on Steam is none other than Death Stranding, which has the advantage of having an extended pedigree from one of gaming's most notorious directors, Hideo Kojima.

Ironically, EA was the second publisher for Rocket Arena, with the struggling Nexon having that title under their belt previously. Nexon, who recently had to call it quits on MapleStory 2, one of the largest online franchises around, has been having a hard time retaining an audience of its own. Just this week, the company had to shutter their office in Orange County. And to top off that anecdote, Nexon was also the publisher for Lawbreakers. Sometimes, a company is just a giant string of bad business decisions. 

At no point should this malaise indicate the quality of a game. Sadly, sometimes not even just making a good game is enough and developers are beholden to the decisions of their publisher. If you're playing Rocket Arena, please tell us how you're enjoying it in the comments.


Daav Valentaten, NoobFeed

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