Industry analyst Mike Hickey of Janco Partners has come to a couple of pretty interesting conclusions about the future of mega-publisher Electronic Arts and two of their biggest franchises, Battlefield and Mass Effect. Though details on the next version of each game are already well known to players the world over, read on to find out what may be in store for the future of these two respected series.
Battlefield 3 has shown us impressive gameplay demos, yet as the 12-minute gameplay trailer makes clear, the game strays far from the traditional Battlefield experience. This may be the sort of thing Hickey had in mind when he came to the conclusion that in order for Battlefield to truly compete with Call of Duty, it will have to surpass CoD’s gameplay as well as keep up with the relentlessly steady pace at which the games are released. Activision has launched a new Call of Duty title every Fall to record breaking numbers for years. Hickey feels that Battlefield can, and will have to, do the same.
Battlefield is actually well-suited to this sort of set up as it spans both the traditional Battlefield titles and the recent Bad Company series. Bad Company was moderately successful, but has a lot of room for growth. If EA and DICE dedicate the time and effort, they could be churning out Battlefield games once a year. Activision manages to do this by having multiple developers working on Call of Duty games at the same time, alternating between Infinity Ward and Treyarch (plus Raven and Sledgehammer). If EA hopes to emulate this schedule, then they will need to put an additional developer or two on the Battlefield franchise. In Hickey’s words:
“We suspect they could release a Battlefield franchise game annually, switching between Battlefield and Bad Company versions, similar to how Activision manages their Call of Duty franchise.”
This, of course, makes perfect sense if EA wants to compete with Call of Duty, but it also presents Battlefield with the same dangers of complacency for which John Riccitiello so kindly criticized Call of Duty. Mr. Riccitiello has made it abundantly clear that Battlefield is the future, though one can’t help but remember the same confidence and smack talking that preceded the ill-conceived Medal of Honor game. We’ll see this Fall if Battlefield is truly prepared to give Call of Duty a fight for its life.
Hickey’s comments on Mass Effect are equally interesting. With the trilogy-concluding Mass Effect 3 on the way next year, many have already begun to look at the future of the franchise. With novels, comics, toys, and a line of clothing, it’s clear to see that Mass Effect is one of the biggest series of this generation. A company like EA would be loathe to let such a thing go to waste, so we can be sure that we’ll see more Mass Effect after the third game, and the fans won’t be complaining. While we can more or less be sure that there will be a fourth Mass Effect title, we are less sure about what direction it will go.
BioWare is currently seeking to revolutionize and revitalize the MMO RPG market with Star Wars: The Old Republic, as well as give Blizzard’s World of Warcraft some company up on its mountain of riches. However, as much as a Star Wars MMO is certain to appeal to a great many fans and bring loads of cash to the company, Hickey feels that a Mass Effect MMO could be an even bigger success than The Old Republic.
“Looking forward, we believe BioWare could develop an MMO based on their highly successful Mass Effect franchise, which should have a considerably better (relative StarWars MMO) margin profile, given the dilutive nature of the LucasArts royalty.”
So, Mass Effect could be better financially than The Old Republic, and we know EA likes money. If this is indeed true, it could mean that we will see an MMO set in the world of Mass Effect soon.
What would you like to see as the next Mass Effect game? Is Battlefield biting off more than it can chew trying to take on Call of Duty? Would you rather spend money every year buying Battlefield, or Call of Duty? Both? Leave your comments below!
Battlefield 3 will be available this Fall, and Mass Effect 3 hits shelves Q1, 2012. Both will be available for the PC, PS3, and Xbox 360.