EA’s biggest launch of 2018’s holiday season just got pushed back about a month. World War II shooter Battlefield V will be hitting in November.
So far, 2018’s holiday is sort of looking like a repeat of 2017’s for EA. Last year the PR disaster that was Star Wars Battlefront II took the headlines, pretty much crashing at retail. That’s a shame, since the game has gotten a bunch of upgrades since launch and is pretty good in its current form. Not that it’s blown up in the sales department, but it’s worth saying.
Battlefront II was EA’s biggest release of last holiday though, even with the sales shortfall. And this year’s is Battlefield V. Once again too, it’s looking like it might be not such a great situation.
MCV is reporting that the game has been pushed back to November 20th from the original October date. All in all it comes out to be about a month’s delay, and EA has pointed to a few reasons for it. Namely, that developer DICE needs more time for such things as improving the “tempo”. Though honestly, the reasons cited seem pretty minor.
It’s worth talking about the fact that industry analysts have pointed to something else that does seem like a more likely reason for the delay. Well, actually two “somethings” – Call of Duty and Red Dead. Both games were sandwiching Battlefield in October, and could have meant imminent death for it in the sales department. Those two games have been recipients of a huge amount of fan support and excitement, and are going to be monster titles. There’s no denying that.
Nudging Battlefield to November could give it just enough space to lure in some gamers who might’ve otherwise had to pass on it. Also, it gives EA another month to accrue some pre-orders. That’s important too, and seems to be something that’s being overlooked by pretty much every gaming site out there. If you haven’t been paying attention, Battlefield’s pre-release numbers have been pretty low. There might be a very pointed reason for that too, one that comes back around to the fans.
For those who don’t know, former EA higher-up Patrick Söderlund just left the company.
Before he left though, he made some remarks that were less than stellar. Basically it comes down to the fact that he was presented with a pretty large amount of negative reaction to some choices made for the game.
And by that, I mean the choice to dial down the realism, include what appears to be out-of-place characters (women on the frontlines of Europe) in the campaign, and plug in semi-sci-fi elements (she has what looks to be a robotic arm). To all of that, Söderlund basically said that fans shouldn’t buy it if they don’t like it. Oof.
Speaking from a sales point of view, that’s excessively not great, and immediately puts fans in a defensive position. It would have been easy to say something like “we think you’ll love what we’ve got in store, and hope you give the game a chance”, and it mystifies me why that wasn’t the course of action. Instead the opposite track was taken, and now I believe we’re, at least partially, seeing the fallout.
Apparently all of the above is reflecting in EA’s stock price too. MCV is reporting that the company’s shares have dropped in value to the tune of almost 10%. That’s no small dip. There are other reasons for the drop, including current exchange rates, but the existing issues cannot be ignored.
Its tough at this point to say whether or not Battlefield V will rebound or merely have a “meh” retail launch. Though I think it’s fair to say that it could still be something of a hit if word of mouth is positive, post-release.
It’s also hard to say how big of a blow to EA it might be if it doesn’t do well. The company most definitely is still not hurting for cash, but I think another holiday of disappointment could result in a shake up. Stay tuned, things are just getting interesting.