We traveled to New York last week to attend Sony’s PlayStation 4 unveiling event, and understandably there were an insurmountable number of rumors about potential game reveals leading up to the presentation. With Sony sharing a partnership of sorts with Electronic Arts for the Battlefield franchise on the PS3 and the fact that EA and developer DICE showcased Battlefield 4 for the very first time to retail managers last week, we thought it was a given that we would get our very first look at BF4 on the PS4 last week, but it didn’t happen.
In a surprise twist, Activision – who partnered with Microsoft for Call of Duty timed DLC exclusives on the Xbox 360 – instead rounded out the show with two huge announcements: Blizzard would be bringing Diablo 3 to the PS3 and PS4, and Bungie – who developed exclusive for the Xbox brand for over a decade – was bringing Destiny to the PS4 as well (with exclusive content). Now we may know why EA was nowhere to be found.
A pair of sources of CVG revealed to them an interesting tidbit about console-publisher partnerships for the next-gen consoles, a piece of information that explains the Battlefield 4 absence during Sony’s PlayStation 4 unveiling.
According to the report, Microsoft has entered into a partnership with mega publisher Electronic Arts for games releasing on the Xbox 720. This doesn’t mean upcoming releases will skip the Wii U and PS4 as Xbox exclusives. Instead, the deal will likely follow the usual trend of Microsoft partnerships in that the Xbox 360 successor may have timed exclusives on releases, probably focused on the DLC content, a la Call of Duty and Skyrim.
Taking in hints from what EA CFO Blake Jorgensen said during a Morgan Stanley Technology, Media, and Telecom conference about why they weren’t at the PS4 unveiling, and we can piece together where they will instead debut next-gen titles.
“It was more about timing of our own slate as well as trying to maintain a good balance of power with all the parties out there and choosing when to unveil certain pieces of software… I’d say, between now and E3, you are going to see a lot of stuff, and we are going to chose with our marketing teams when to announce.”
As a response to Sony’s buzz-driving event last week – which in turn, may have been a response to Xbox’s Major Nelson ((Larry Hryb, Director of Programming for Xbox Live) sharing a countdown timer to their E3 presentation – Microsoft will likely unveil the next-gen Xbox (codename: Durango) before E3 and rumor has it, that they’re planning a similar event for April to do so. If that happens, expect not only the first unveiling of Battlefield 4, but maybe even the first game in development at Respawn Entertainment, a game which is also confirmed to be at E3 2013.
Wedbush Securities industry analyst Michael Pachter believes the next-gen consoles will see Battlefield 4 pave the way for that franchise to “dethrone” Call of Duty, so perhaps it’s a smart time to trade partners for Microsoft:
“The CoD franchise is at or near its peak annual sales potential, and we’ll likely see sales stabilize. Battlefield 4’s launching next autumn and new consoles are coming out, so this is likely to affect sales.”
EEDAR’s Jesse Divnich on Battlefield potentially taking more of Call of Duty’s share:
“We have faith CoD can hold its market dominance, but EA will push to solidify Battlefield as the premiere shooter franchise as we transition to new consoles.”
Excited for the next-gen consoles? Follow me on Twitter @rob_keyes and let me know what you want from Battlefield 4!