With Star Wars Battlefront being roundly beaten in terms of daily users by 2013’s Battlefield 4, we investigate exactly why the Star Wars shooter’s user base is dwindling.
It’s fair to say that Star Wars Battlefront did not quite receive the reception that publisher EA expected when it was released in November of last year. Although the game was highly anticipated by the gaming community, the multiplayer shooter came under fire from fans of the franchise and critics alike for a perceived lack of content. All in all, it seemed as though the critical success of the DICE-developed title was not as sure-fire as expected.
In spite of that, gamers still appeared to pick up the game by the bucketload. EA set a fairly conservative estimate of 13 million copies sold, and Star Wars Battlefront had already gained 12 million purchases by the end of the holiday season. Although GameStop has suggested that the game did not perform quite as expected, there was still a sizeable chunk of FPS fans who took the plunge into the game’s world.
Unfortunately, EA has clearly come across another problem: those players are leaving in droves. Recently, it’s been revealed that Star Wars Battlefront has a surprisingly low number of daily users given its release just months ago. In fact, according to Battlefield-centric website BF4Central, 2013’s Battlefield 4 actually has 50% more users than DICE’s Star Wars shooter.
The recent data mine of statistics from EA’s own servers suggests that Star Wars Battlefront has only 80,000 active users on average over 24 hours. That may seem like a strong amount, but Battlefield 4, which was released several years ago now, still gets approximately 125,000 users per day. It is even worse for fellow EA stable mate Battlefield: Hardline, which averages just 25,000 active users.
Battlefront is far from the only multiplayer-focused game to suffer from a dramatic drop-off in users within a short amount of time. Indeed, the equally highly anticipated asymmetrical shooter Evolve also had a huge loss of player base within a short amount of time. Question is, what exactly has caused Star Wars Battlefront to lose so many users, and why has Battlefield 4 retained so much of its player base?
The answer perhaps comes from one of the main criticisms of the Star Wars shooter: a lack of varied content. Fans were miffed when the game released with a paltry number of maps, and even though a variety of game modes were available to users at launch, it did not change the fact that only a few locations could be accessed. Although EA and DICE no doubt hoped otherwise, having varied gameplay forms would not make different rounds in Hoth feel like an entirely different experience.
There was, therefore, little to keep players entertained should their enthusiasm for the gameplay dry up. That, unfortunately, seems to be exactly what happened with users, and the obvious lack of depth compounded with the lack of variety when it came to location. Battlefront may have been fun, but that was never going to be enough to keep gamers hooked.
In particular, Star Wars Battlefront lacked much by way of technical ability for gamers to master. The game always felt very relaxed when it came to users, with gameplay much more arcade-like than most other FPS games on the market. A leniency on new players is sometimes welcome, as seen with Nintendo’s acclaimed Splatoon, but Star Wars Battlefront simply lacked a high ceiling, or even the ability for users to develop a mastery of the game.
With that in mind, it was very strange that the game was released without a single-player campaign available. The lack of a campaign mode was another huge criticism launched at Star Wars Battlefront, keeping the game apart from its predecessors and even drawing the ire of The Force Awakens star John Boyega. A single-player mode was missed by fans, and no doubt impacted on the game’s longevity.
Although some may feel that the addition of a more fleshed out solo-centric mode would not have helped with long-term users, the inclusion of a campaign is often very helpful for players. After all, there is a reason why Titanfall 2 is due to receive a campaign in its second iteration. Not only can a single-player mode help provide players with context on how to play the multiplayer, but it also delivers a stronger tie to the world-building of the multiplayer side of things.
What is perhaps most surprising is that the game came from acclaimed multiplayer shooter dev DICE. When the developer had the reins of the Battlefield franchise, the FPS series seemed unstoppable, going toe-to-toe with shooter kingpin Call of Duty. However, DICE was unable to bring this expertise with it into the Star Wars universe.
The reasons for this are multiple, but it mainly comes down to the differences between the two franchises, and the way in which DICE handled player expectations. Battlefield has always had a campaign tied to its obvious multiplayer focus, and this has helped users take on the slightly different mechanics of each game. When it came to the multiplayer, too, the Battlefield franchise has given more variety to users than Battlefront managed.
That’s why Battlefield 4 still has a much larger number of daily users than Star Wars Battlefront – and all after the astronomical problems that Battlefield 4 had at launch. DICE combined the lightning-in-a-bottle multiplayer gameplay of previous games in the franchise with a decent campaign and enough intricacies to be perfected to keep FPS fanatics involved. What’s more, DICE tried to continue releasing content for Battlefield 4 long after the game’s initial release, even if the developer could never quite remove the tarnish of the game’s dismal launch.
Unfortunately, the same cannot quite be said about Star Wars Battlefront, and that has proved to be EA and DICE’s downfall. Sure, the game may still receive additional maps and content, but when such a small amount was available when the game was initially released, the availability of more maps feels more like Star Wars Battlefront finally giving players what they expected to have from the get-go. When some of that content is paid-for downloadable expansions, there’s then the added bonus of segmenting the game’s dwindling user base even more.
Star Wars Battlefront is far from the only Star Wars game that EA is going to release, and fans of the iconic franchise can expect different developers to have their own shots at taking on one of the most well-known properties in the world – particularly now that DICE is once again focused on the Battlefield series. However, EA will need to be aware of exactly how Star Wars Battlefront failed to provide long-term gaming thrills, and perhaps instead think long and hard about the future of Star Wars games.