The arrival of a second major Battlefield game one year after the last one, Battlefield 4, doesn't necessarily mean that EA and DICE's shooter franchise is aiming for annual releases, according to EA Studios executive vice president Patrick Söderlund.
Instead, Battlefield: Hardline is the product of EA letting its studios work on the games they're interested in making, he says.
"Karl-Magnus [Troedsson], who runs DICE studios, and Steve Papoutsis, who runs Visceral, basically met in Barcelona almost three years ago and they came to me and said 'Hey, we have an idea,'" Söderlund said of Battlefield: Hardline's origins. "Actually, the idea of a cops and robbers type Battlefield game has been with us — me and the DICE team — for more than ten years. There are early prototypes from, like, 2000 or 2001 of a game that we called back then Urban Combat. This has been lingering and we've been wanting to do something like this."
Visceral Games' plan for making its police-themed Battlefield spin-off made sense, Söderlund said, but he had one condition: "Make sure that Visceral builds an expansion pack before they do this so they understand what it takes to make a Battlefield game," he said.
"It doesn't necessarily mean that we need to annualize Battlefield"
"It doesn't necessarily mean that we need to annualize Battlefield and that's the way it's going to be forever and ever," he said. "I understand that some people may look at it that way but that's what happened.
"The EA that I'm trying to help build isn't an EA that needs to annualize everything," Söderlund said at E3 last week.
The ongoing work that DICE is doing to fix Battlefield 4, Söderlund said, will benefit Battlefield: Hardline's multiplayer, adding that the team in Sweden "has made significant progress" in improving the game's online performance.
"We still have things to make it better," he said. "Everything that we've fixed with [Battlefield 4] will go into Hardline. Once people get their hands on the netcode patch, which I think is profound, that will take care of a lot of the complaints around Battlefield... and how responsive the game is."
As for the franchise that helped put Visceral Games on the map, Dead Space, Söderlund said it could come back, but only with the right idea and an interest from the development team.
"To the largest extent we can, we want to get the game teams to work on the things they want to work on themselves," he said. "There's an incredible amount of enthusiasm over Hardline and the Star Wars game at Visceral. Do I think that we will create a Dead Space game again? Yes, I think so. But when we do so, we have to think about what made the previous ones successful and how we go about envisioning Dead Space for a new generation.
"Now, I'm not announcing a Dead Space game. We're not building one just to be very clear, but I'm saying is there an opportunity or possibility to do one in the future? Absolutely."