EAs upcoming family friendly multiplayer battle game Knockout City releases May 21st, and launches day one on EA’s subscription service, EA Play. This also by proxy means it will be available to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers day one.
With a cartoonish style and competitive dodge ball gameplay, this game is clearly gunning for the younger Fortnite and Splatoon demographic. But what chance does it really have of dethroning this behemoth?
EA are certainly being clever with this one, I can easily picture the board room meetings now. A workshop of vaguely creative types sat around a table listing on a white board all the traits that makes a billion-dollar franchise like Fortnite successful.
But being artificially manufactured doesn’t mean it’s going to be a bad game. After all I'm sure very few big releases these days are off the back of one mind’s creative vision. While manufactured pop music such as Taylor Swift’s music might not be considered audio art masterpieces by musical connoisseur, I’m sure she has no problem shaking off the criticisms all the way to the bank.
Profitability aside, I’ll be dammed if you can look me in the eye and tell me you aren’t running to the dancefloor when Five or Britney come on at a wedding reception.
What’s really going to matter to the success of this game isn’t the critics telling us it’s an unimaginative microtransaction filled Fortnite bandwagoner, no, much more important is how fun and addictive it is to play. And from the initial gameplay trailers, it certainly looks like it could be that.
Now my nephew is a market research gold mine for the youths' interest in games. At 10 years old I’ve had no luck convincing him to play some of my favourite games, such as Halo 3, much to my frustration. As he’s rather be playing Fortnite, why? Because his friends play Fortnite.
I have nothing at all against Fortnite, indeed I think it’s an excellent take on the battle royal genre populated by PUBG. While I’m not a BR fan, I like to respawn when I die so I can seek terrible vengeance on my enemies, the building element of Fortnite appeals to me. However, I would have loved my nephew to fall for Halo as I did so that I could have some fun couch coop with him over the family Christmases.
Alas, he’s really only into what his friends are into, as were we all I suppose, and that until recently has been exclusively Fortnite. He and his youthful band have however moved on it seems, to Sea of Thieves, a game I’ve had a lot of experience with, even if I have personally got a bit bored of it. But this does show me that they’re ready to move past Fortnite and onto something new.
With these youth at least being on Xbox, and at least my nephew being on Game Pass Ultimate, Knockout City has at least a chance of being tested out by them. The brilliance of putting this straight onto a subscription services is that it gives Knockout City a huge pre-loaded potential audience. Much like Epic deciding to release Fortnite Battle Royal for free, making jumping in zero risk, Knockout City could no doubt make plenty of income off the apparel and weapon skin market.
EA are also clever in having one thing Fortnite lacks, or lacks what Fortnite has, but in a good way; guns. Splatoon isn’t the gigantic IP over in the West as it is in the East, but it is still popular amongst younger kids. It has the competitive gameplay enjoyed by Call of Duty and Fortnite, but is safe for a parent who like to keep their kids away from violence to let them play. It’s a competitive shooter without the shooting. And knockout City has the same appeal.
So now we’re hitting the accessibility of a free to play game.
The customizable characters, though different skins and apparel, that keeps Fortnite fresh.
The ‘innocent lack of violence yet still basically a shooter’ that means parents can allow their children to play.
The white board list is checked off. This trifactor gives me reason to believe Knockout City will be, well, a knockout.
I’ll be interested to find out from my young nephew what interest there currently is in the school yards about this one. As ability to get this demographic hooked will be the biggest requirement for success for Knockout City. But I’m fairly optimistic that it will be huge.
I’ll certainly give it a go, if for no other reason that it’ll be included in my Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription, and of course to review. Plus, I’d like to school my nephew on what a Halo Slayer trained player can do with a dodgeball.
Want to Dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge, get your Game Pass Ultimate subscription here.
Take a look at Knockout City below:
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