While the game has its fans (hi!), there’s no escaping the fact that in a wider context, Battlefield 2042's launch has been a disaster for Electronic Arts. Fan reception has been hostile, player counts have dropped like a stone, and the company won’t even disclose how many copies of the game have been sold.
With the game having been out for three months now and things far from improving, a report on Xfire says that EA executives recently held an internal “town hall” meeting, where not only was the game described as a “miss”, but a number of reasons were put forward for its calamitous launch. This was all in order to try to plot a path out of this mess (remember, games this big aren’t allowed to die).
First up, here’s the kind of admission you don’t see very often in this industry about games of this scale, even if it’s an “internal” meeting:
Laura Miele, EA’s Chief Studios Officer, led the discussion on Battlefield 2042 by acknowledging EA’s wider successes, both past and present, but said “it’s really important to acknowledge when we have misses.” Miele continued, “This is certainly the case with the Battlefield launch, which failed to meet the expectations of our players, and also clearly missed our own expectations.”
Moving on to the factors blamed for the launch woes, Miele cites everything from the ageing Frostbite engine (“The Frostbite version they were on was so old they had to go back and update. So it was basically putting the game on a new engine,”) to the pandemic (“...add a global pandemic halfway into the project, where the game teams had to work from home, we ended up with more new variables in development than we have ever experienced before,”) to the bug count (which was at “historic levels for a DICE game”).
One final and very funny reason Miele cites is Halo: Infinite, a game that is not Battlefield 2042. It came out around the same time and apparently created a comparison for multiplayer shooter fans that “was not favourable because Halo Infinite was a very polished title whereas Battlefield 2042 contained bugs and wasn’t as polished.”
Some of those factors, like the pandemic, are completely understandable! Others, like troubles with the Frostbite engine, I have less sympathy with since it’s EA’s own engine. And bringing up Halo, a game that has had its own problems, is just very funny.
What’s interesting here is seeing an EA executive provide this handy list of things to blame for the game’s busted launch, and none of those things involve EA executives. Sure, everything brought up (aside from Halo) was a factor in the game being confused, or under-cooked, or buggy, but the decision to push ahead and release the game in late 2021 regardless wasn’t made by the people making it, it was made by the people selling it.
If blame is being thrown around internally, then surely those who insisted it release in this state, rather than delay and try and fix and improve things, deserve their fair share as well?
The full report on Xfire has more, including stuff on mock review scores and needing to cast a wider net when soliciting player feedback in the middle of development.