EA: We Don’t Need a Battlefield Title Every Year
Electronic Arts is pushing Battlefield: Hardline into 2015, and on its earnings call today, the company said that not having a new iteration of Battlefield each year is okay.
Answering a question about how pushing back Hardline would alter the annualized timeline of Battlefield releases, EA Executive Vice President Patrick Soderlund said that EA didn’t think changing Hardline’s release would mess up future Battlefield releases, mostly because EA didn’t think it needed to stick to an annual schedule.
“For Battlefield, I think it’s important to put out the right product at the right time,” Soderlund said. “Does that mean we have to ship a Battlefield game every year? In some years that may be the case, in some years it may not. We don’t need to have a Battlefield game every year. In this case, we chose quality first, and I think ultimately that’s where we’re going to be successful.”
EA announced earlier today that Battlefield: Hardline would be delayed into 2015, rather than launching in October as was originally announced. It was feedback from Hardline’s recent open beta that drove the decision, Visceral said, and Soderlund mentioned the developer thought Hardline needed to do a better job about the things it was trying to accomplish — things like invoking the feel of cops and robbers rather than Battlefield’s usual military shooter style.
Pushing back Hardline, EA said, would allow the company to put out a stronger product, and because of increases in digital sales this quarter, it expects the post-release tail on Hardline to be pretty strong throughout 2015. All that justifies pushing the release date back, even at the expense of annual releases.
And honestly, the fact that EA is looking at alternatives to pushing out a Battlefield game every year — especially if the developers and publisher don’t think the game is really quite there — is a good thing to hear. After the recent release of Titanfall, which felt rushed and still feels unfinished, it’s nice to see EA taking the right lessons from this successful quarter report. This isn’t like the Dragon Age: Inquisition delay of a month, which is almost definitely about removing the game from the extremely cluttered release window that is October; Hardline’s delay into 2015 will likely result in some meaningful changes to the game, and I suspect we’ll see them in its next beta test.
EA has always described its business as “hit-driven,” so big releases every year are key to keeping profits up and shareholders happy. But forcing releases out never does the publisher any favors, from Mass Effect 3 to Medal of Honor Warfighter to Titanfall, and hopefully EA is realizing that the best way it can compete and keep player loyalty is to let games have the development time they need to be great.
It also helps that EA made a ton of money off FIFA from the World Cup, so hopefully it doesn’t take a windfall every time a game needs more work before release.