Electronic Arts quietly notannounced a new Battlefield game during their conference call last night, alongside notdelaying BioWare's Anthem. They said very little about it, because they acknowledge its existence but haven't formally announced it, see. Will it be set in the past, near-past, present, near-future, or future? Battlefield 5? Bad Company 3? Hardline 2? 1944? 2143? Hut hut! It's all a big mystery for now. Assuming EA follow their traditional Battlefield behaviour, they'll likely formally announce the game in May or June then release it in mid-to-late October.
"Our Dice studio will deliver the next Battlefield, with innovation at every level, incredible stories at the core, astonishing visuals and gameplay that will captivate every Battlefield fan," CEO Andrew Wilson said during last night's earnings conference call for investors. Dice. Captivating. Gotcha.
EA say that this new Battlefield is why they're delaying Anthem to early 2019, because it didn't seem sensible to launch the two alongside each other. Wait, sorry - they didn't say they're delaying Anthem. EA made clear that Anthem isn't delayed, it's... just launching later than previously planned. Not a delay.
The rumour mill has said the next Battlefield would return to World War 2, though don't believe everything Ian Video Games tells you. Not that EA have told us anything either. But we can make some guesses based on what the EA fellas said across the call. They muttered about esports and Battlefield, for starters, so that's something we should expect more of a push on.
"BUT WHAT ABOUT LOOT CRATES ALICE?" you scream.
Well! Following the stinking mess of Star Wars Battlefront 2's loot crate monetisation, it's no surprise that the subjects of monetisation and live services and all that came up a fair bit across the call, both in EA's prepared remarks and in questions from analysts. Obviously they didn't talk about specific plans for this Battlefield game they've not announced yet--they still haven't even said what they'll do when they eventually return microtransactions to Battlefront 2--but they did talk about broader philosophies.
Wilson said that that with games like Battlefield and Battlefront, "premium content after launch is valued by the community, but only where we can offer it in a world where we don't bifurcate the community." He talked about a need to tailor monetisation and content additions to each game but did say that, across all EA games and live services, "at the very centre of everything we want to offer is choice, player choice, in a world that keeps communities together."
While Battlefront 2 adds new maps, modes, weapons, characters, and bits in free updates and hoped players will splurge cash to skip the unlock grind, Battlefield games have been more simple and direct with paid expansions. However, expansions split communities and, given Wilson's remarks, I wouldn't be surprised if Battlefield switches to another form of post-launch monetisation in this or some other future game.
"BUT WHAT ABOUT BATTLE ROYALE ALICE?" you wail. "EVERYTHING IS BATTLE ROYALE NOW."
Battlefield 5/2018/BC3/1943/2143/5748/58439543 is probably not another Plunker, to put your mind at ease. One listener did ask about Playerunknown's Battlegrounds, and Wilson did compliment it, saying it "delivered a new level of innovation that changed the way people were playing first-person shooter games." But it sounds like EA are thinking more about shaking up their own game rather than copying someone else's.
"It's clearly a mode of play that the global FPS population are interested in, and given that we have some of the best shooters in the marketplace, you might expect that we're also thinking about new and innovative ways to play. And that doesn't mean just [Plunkbat] replicas inside of the Battlefield universe but it does mean that our Battlefield teams [...] are looking at how they innovate in every aspect of the game, including core gameplay and map design."
You know, my brain kicked and screamed when I started pouring this moneytalk and numbermash into my ears this morning, but now it's settled nicely and I think I do want a portfolio. I do want an ROI on my IP in the IPO this FY. I do want to become a choice-centred live service. I do want a pair of red trousers.