In their never-ending question to take the modern FPS crown from Activision’s dominant Call of Duty franchise, publisher Electronic Arts enlisted Danger Close Games to revive Medal of Honor with a modern spin to run alongside their flagship Battlefield franchise by DICE. It didn’t quite deliver and EA admitted it didn’t meet their quality expectations.
That didn’t stop them from trying again with Medal of Honor: Warfighter, an even bigger disappointment – one that we knew was coming. Why would EA launch another modern FPS running on the same game engine as Battlefield 3 with a smaller feature set? It was impossible for it to succeed and now Medal of Honor is dead (again) although EA says it will eventually make another comeback. So, now there’s talk of annualizing Battlefield. Cue the groans.
Before we even look ahead, let’s look at the now. Battlefield 4 launched in – and arguably still is- in a borderline broken, beta form. Some users consistently have connectivity issues, the retail package came with lackluster offerings (shorter campaign, dropped co-op, only 10 maps, etc.). It’s so problematic that EA has officially delayed its pre-planned DLC offerings to focus on the bugs before attempting to further monetize the title. Still, sales are reportedly down versus Battlefield 3 and when combined with slightly less flattering reviews and the quality issues, Battlefield isn’t in as good a spot as it should be from everything they’ve learned with their last three modern shooters.
This is why we facepalm when hearing reports that EA might just be moving ahead with an annual Battlefield release, by a different developer. Industry analyst Michael Pachter tells Eurogamer that Criterion Games (who handed over the Need For Speed franchise to Ghost Games) might be working on a Battlefield spinoff for EA’s next fiscal year.
NeoGAF user Nirolak compiled a rather comprehensive list of evidence that it’s actually Dead Space developer Visceral Games who might be working on another Battlefield title. They did after all help with the Battlefield 3: End Game DLC although they’re currently reportedly developing a Star Wars game for EA.
With Titanfall and Destiny earning the most buzz and acclaim during the events circuit this year (E3, Gamescom, etc.) and DICE now working away on Star Wars: Battlefront (yet another highly anticipated sci-fi shooter), EA should be aiming to do something different with the series. There will be additional content for BF4 coming throughout 2014 so launch another similar (potentially lesser) game would be another formula for financial and critical failure a la Medal of Honor.
What would be interesting is taking the series in another direction. Go back to WWII, go back to the 2142 setting (although Titanfall sort of fills that void), make a full campaign co-op Bad Company title, explore a different genre/playstyle or have them slow down and work on making Battlefield 5 bigger and better than both of its predecessors. Otherwise, they might just be shooting themselves in the foot.
What do you want from the Battlefield series?
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes.