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EA rethinking Battlefield ‘from the ground up,’ CEO says

A lackluster multiplayer-only launch has provoked some corporate soul-searching

A squad secures supplies in Hazard mode in Battlefield 2042. Image: EA DICE/Electronic Arts
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

EA DICE, the maker of Battlefield 2042, is “rethinking the development process from the ground up,” according to Electronic Arts’ chief executive. The company is reconsidering its flagship shooter franchise after a lackluster November launch, followed by a series of delays to live service content, some of which are still unresolved six months later.

“They’re using the kind of Vince Zampella/Respawn model of ‘Get to the fun as quickly as possible,’” Wilson told investors during Tuesday afternoon’s quarterly earnings call. Wilson was referencing the founder of Respawn Entertainment, maker of EA’s wildly successful Apex Legends battle royale.

In December, Electronic Arts assigned Zampella — who also founded Infinity Ward, the studio behind the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare sub-series for Activision — to oversee the Battlefield franchise. Battlefield 2042, a multiplayer-only iteration of the shooter franchise that launched over the holidays on PlayStation, PC, and Xbox.

Battlefield 2042’s launch was immediately followed by a damage-control memo from EA DICE, a launch-day title update to correct performance issues seen in the game’s early access, and multiple patches immediately after release. Battlefield 2042’s Metacritic scores, on console, are the lowest in the series’ history, and the PC version’s score is second-lowest, ahead of 2015’s Battlefield Hardline, made by Visceral Games.

“They’ve been doing thousands of updates for the community, working on quality of life, and really getting the core game right,” Wilson said on Tuesday’s call. “I think there’s still more work for us to do there. […] Once we get to a place where we feel like we’re in the right place with the core experience, and with the core game, then you should expect us to invest and grow beyond where the game is at today.”

The first season of multiplayer progression and unlockable content is delayed to sometime this summer, EA DICE said back in February. Battlefield 2042 launched in November with promises of four seasons and attendant battle passes offering tiered unlocks, such as four new playable characters and new maps. Battlefield 2042 finally delivered in-game voice chat in mid-April, and a scoreboard in March.

Investment analysts also questioned Wilson about Battlefield Mobile, the Android and iOS adaptation that EA announced on April 22. That is being developed by Industrial Toys, the mobile studio EA acquired in 2018.

“Right now, I think we were looking at going into further testing at the end of May,” Wilson told investors, “and then, subject to the metrics and the data that we’ve seen, we might look towards the end of this year, beginning of next year, for global launch. […] We want to give ourselves the opportunity to ensure that the game has all the soft launch and closed beta that it needs in order to ensure the balance.”