By now most gamers are plenty familiar with the launch troubles of Battlefield 4. After a disappointing beta test, many suspected the game might not be ready for its full debut last October — that the game might be more “broken” than the average multiplayer-focused release – but developer DICE and publisher EA released the game regardless, and to gamers’ dismay Battlefield 4 was just as unfinished as many feared it was.
Now that some time has passed since Battlefield 4‘s launch, EA’s Andrew Wilson and DICE’s Karl-Magnus Troedsson are ready to talk about what exactly went wrong. More importantly, both have committed to ensuring this won’t happen again. Which is a good thing because Battlefield: Hardline launches in a few months.
First and foremost, Wilson, who took over as EA’s CEO in late 2013, called the Battlefield 4 launch “unacceptable.” He claims that the time between developing, testing, and launch wasn’t enough for DICE to iron out the bugs in their game, of which there clearly were a lot.
“For me, the situation we had was unacceptable. For the team it was unacceptable. We have worked tirelessly since then to make sure the gameplay experience got to where it absolutely should have been at launch and we’re focused on that and we continue to deliver value to that player base.”
He also cites the next-gen consoles as a potential factor in the game’s flawed release, as both Sony and Microsoft were constantly shifting their platforms’ specs right up until launch. Now, Wilson wanted to make clear that he isn’t passing the blame over to the PS4 or Xbox One, but rather he is merely pointing out how difficult it is to test a game on hardware that isn’t yet final.
“Last year was a very unique situation. Not to abdicate responsibility whatsoever – we own it, we are responsible for it and we have worked tirelessly to remedy the situation – but when you are building a game on an unfinished platform with unfinished software, there are some things that can’t get done until the very last minute because the platform wasn’t ready to get done.”
That being said, we’d be quick to point out that Battlefield 4 experienced considerable problems on the PC as well, which flies in the face of Wilson’s claims. If anything the PC should have been the one platform where there were no multiplayer problems, but alas that was not the case.
As far as what those problems were, Wilson and Troedsson claim it was Battlefield 4’s ambition that was its undoing.
“Think about what Battlefield 4 was: 64 player multiplayer, giant maps, 1080p, Levolution that was changing the gameplay design in an emergent way. There is a chance there are things you are going to miss through the development cycle. And you end up in a situation we had with Battlefield 4.”
That situation, of course, resulted in a huge all hands on deck call within DICE, where the developer halted production on all Battlefield 4 DLC and upcoming projects in order to fix the game. And while it took some time to get there, it appears Battlefield 4 is now in a playable state.
Getting Battlefield 4 to a playable state, however, was only one part of the equation. As DICE has previously revealed, they will continue to support and improve Battlefield 4 for as long as gamers continue to play it. In fact, they just recently launched a new testing program on PC that would give them a more responsive line of communication with their audience.
DICE will even continue to support Battlefield 4 while Battlefield: Hardline, Visceral Games’ new cops and robbers-focused franchise entry, is dominating the conversation. They will also be lending a helping hand on that game’s development, but their focus is BF4 and future projects (Star Wars: Battlefront) at the moment.
Worried fans should know, though, that Visceral has had a full three years to work on Hardline, and Wilson says that lessons learned from Battlefield 4 will help prevent this game from experiencing the same launch day problems.
“All those fixes are going straight into Hardline. Most of them are already in there. We have a lot of people still working on BF4. Everything is going in the right direction here. But yes we absolutely have this as a focus for us. Launching this game needs to be different than BF4.”
Wilson concluded his interview with Eurogamer by discussing the rumored annualization of the Battlefield franchise. In the past, DICE has taken their time with Battlefield releases, but with Hardline set to release a year after BF4 many are wondering if EA is looking to change that. Could Battlefield be taking a page out of Call of Duty‘s book?
“Well, I wouldn’t assume that, but you might! We are going to launch an amazing game this year. The feedback has been strong. And we’re going to continue to run that game as a live service much the way we had Battlefield 3, Battlefield 4 and we will do with Hardline. And then we’ll look at what’s the right time to launch the next one.”
Unfortunately, Wilson does little more than dance around the idea of an annualized Battlefield, but he doesn’t rule out the idea either. However, with DICE’s new Star Wars Battlefront slated to release next year, and Mirror’s Edge some time after that, it’s hard to imagine we would see a proper Battlefield from the studio by the end of 2015. Still, stranger things have happened.
Has Battlefield 4‘s “unacceptable” launch soured the franchise for you? Do you think Battlefield could survive as an annual franchise?
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