Last week, Electronic Arts and DICE hosted the formal reveal of the next entry in the Battlefield franchise. Coming off of 2016's lauded Battlefield 1, the team is returning the series to the fields of World War II in the new Battlefield V. There has been some contention from fans about the game since this event—the reveal trailer currently has over 55,000 more dislikes than likes—due to a variety of factors, some of which have nothing to do with the gameplay.
But the thing that bugs me most about this reveal is one that I'm seeing very few people discuss, and I've driven myself crazy trying to figure out why EA would do it. Because the chosen release date for Battlefield V really makes me wonder if they're intentionally sending this game out to die.
See, Battlefield V is scheduled to launch on October 19, 2018—and for those of us who keep up with major game release dates, that should be rather surprising. Lately we've seen a number of titles that were planned for this Fall getting pushed back to 2019. While the devs have many reasons for these delays, gamers have also noted two major releases that are likely prompting these decisions: Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 (launching Oct 12) and Red Dead Redemption 2 (launching Oct 26). Launching around either of those heavy hitters would no doubt greatly reduce most games' sales figures, so this all makes sense. Yet Battlefield V has opted to be sandwiched right in between the two, and I cannot figure out why.
Whether you love or hate the franchise, there's no denying that Call of Duty's annual releases are consistently top-selling titles, ranking among—or even at the very top—of best-sellers for years. Even Battlefield has historically been unable to topple Activision's giant; their best chance was undoubtedly in 2016, when the highly-anticipated Battlefield 1 went up against the much-maligned Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. But by year's end, at least in America, Infinite Warfare was the one crowned as the highest-selling title of the year. EA even had a two-week head start back then, but they still fell into CoD's shadow.
And if there's a studio that even Activision wants to avoid competing with, it would be Rockstar Games. Black Ops 4 is launching earlier than ever in Call of Duty history, no doubt to give itself a few weeks to enjoy the spotlight before Red Dead Redemption 2 comes in to steal it away. Rockstar's offerings are almost always grand slams, wowing audiences and becoming must-buys for gamers across the board. Mix that in with the hype surrounding their return to the fan-favorite Old West setting, and RDR2 is practically guaranteed to be another major success story.
This all makes EA's chosen release date incredibly perplexing. Battlefield V arrives one week after Call of Duty and one week before Red Dead Redemption, giving it no real window of time where it can stand out from the rest of the pack—CoD's sales will still be going strong in its second week, and Red Dead will almost certainly smash all competitors to dust when it finally comes out. From a business perspective, this date makes no sense.
None of that even factors in the resentment and distrust many have felt towards Electronic Arts ever since the disaster that was Star Wars Battlefront II. If ever EA and DICE needed to avoid competition, it's now, as there are many gamers who may opt to play Call of Duty instead of Battlefield simply to spite EA. If the company just had a few weeks to itself, a few weeks where Battlefield V was the only major new FPS on the market, fans of the genre would have a much higher chance of caving to the desire for a new game to play. But going up against Black Ops 4 directly like this means that those gamers can avoid EA's title like the plague and still get their FPS fix.
If the other two games' dates had been announced more recently, I could have understood this decision; EA might then have still been in the middle of meetings about a new release date and opted to simply announce the game now and figure out when to delay it to later. But Activision revealed Black Ops 4's release date back in March, and Rockstar finalized their launch plans at the start of February. Electronic Arts has had ample time to have these discussions, and yet they've still chosen to, essentially, cripple themselves right out of the gate.
Like I said, this has been bugging me ever since Wednesday's announcement. EA is usually quite keen on getting the most cash they possibly can out of consumers, yet here they are practically throwing away a major opportunity to do so. I can't make heads or tails out of it. I'm hoping that some of our readers will have an explanation for me. Until then, the best I can do is think of a phrase that Jim Sterling has used in the past to describe Konami. Maybe, at the end of the day, that phrase has come to apply to EA as well.
Maybe, at the end of the day, Electronic Arts is just another company that does not know how to business.