EA has finally acknowledged the disappointing launch of Battlefield 2042 in its latest internal ‘Town Hall’ meeting call, held today, February 15. These quarterly calls aim to provide company-wide key updates on the business by looking at the past, present, and future.
One of the biggest takeaways from the call held today was the huge focus on Battlefield 2042. EA execs spent over 20 minutes discussing what went wrong with the launch, and also how the company sees the future of both Battlefield 2042 and the Battlefield franchise going forward.
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.”
On Battlefield 2042’s failures, Miele outlined several key factors that EA’s top brass believe caused its disappointing launch.
As mentioned in my earlier “BATTLEFIELD 2042 – WTF HAPPENED” video (above), one factor was the Frostbite engine and, due to its old tech, the massive update it went through in order to power Battlefield 2042. From my own reports, this alone took over 18 months of development time and Miele addressed the engine upgrade by saying “All new tech, it was basically a new engine. They went back. 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.”
Another major reason for the failure of Battlefield 2042 put forward by management, and which shouldn’t be a surprise, is the work from home environment that many in the industry are currently faced with. On this, Miele said “Add up all of this new innovation, all of this ambition for the new project, and then you 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.”
According to Miele, after the Battlefield Beta last summer, EA received a lot of feedback concerning bugs and unpolished areas of the experience, however there was also a substantial amount of positive feedback from players. “Players saying this feels like Battlefield, Battlefield is back, this is my Battlefield, so we had to embolden the team,” it was said.
It was then revealed that Battlefield 2042’s bug count ratio got to “historic levels for a DICE game” and mock reviews prior to launch were in the “high 70s to low 80s.”
Following the game’s launch, DICE rolled out its Day 1 and Day 0 patches to get the bug count down further. On this, Miele continued and said that Battlefield 2042’s launch and patches meant “the game was stable” and “the early critical reception was good”. However, according to EA, things took a turn, and that turn was clears throat, the surprise release of Halo: Infinite multiplayer (I wish I was joking).
According to Miele, the comparison between both games was not favourable because Halo Infinite was a very polished title whereas Battlefield 2042 contained bugs and wasn’t as polished.
The game’s poor Steam reviews were put down to PC players having a performance cap, which players on Steam found “upsetting”. In addition, negative player feedback overall was focused on three key areas, which EA would further elaborate on:
- Bugs and performance
- Game design and feature choices
- The game not aligning with player expectations
Turning to the future, Miele proceeded to explain what the company has since learned in those three areas, and what actions will be taken to improve upon them.
On the bugs and performance, EA acknowledged that the company has historically had bug issues with DICE games at launch, and that the bug count for Battlefield 2042 did fall into the range that they would have expected when compared to other launches. So, it was believed that the issues would be manageable, with Miele reiterating Andrew Wilson’s comments from EA’s latest quarterly earnings call, saying that “DICE historically is very good at adapting games in live service, connecting with players, connecting with the community and getting the game to the place that the players expect.”
However, Miele acknowledged that player expectations have changed when it comes to live service games and that it wasn’t the right choice to remain anchored to the company’s standards in comparison to previous DICE games.
Turning to Battlefield 2042 design and feature choices, the lack of a scoreboard and VOIP, as well as the Specialists system, were mentioned for a brief moment, and we already know that improvements and additions in these areas will be coming in future months.
Player testing was also referred to, and how the game did not align to player expectations, with Miele saying “Clearly, we didn’t go wide enough with different player segments and we certainly didn’t go deep enough with the game, so we did not bring players along with us, which is a big miss for the development cycle and process of this game.”
Byron Beede, Rebecka Coutaz, and Christian Grass all gave their own thoughts on Battlefield 2042 too.
However, most of these details have been publicly mentioned already, including a revision of Battlefield 2042’s Specialist system. Coutaz did acknowledge how important it is to have player feedback and that a new initiative in this regard will kick off later this month “by discussing map design and the way we want to improve the player space.” It’s not clear if this will involve wider public feedback or just from select individuals.
The entire way that all teams work on Battlefield will also be transformed, with all of Battlefield’s development teams being restructured to ensure a more streamlined development process.
On a personal note, overall, to me, it seemed that EA was either still grasping as to why Battlefield 2042 failed, or they just didn’t want to share those details with the team.
I’ve said it time and time again, all of the issues that players have with Battlefield 2042 were not only brought up during the Battlefield 2042 Beta, but during the Play Test that leaked online. Over three months after launch, none of those issues have been addressed, which could still indicate problems with the new and improved Frostbite engine.
Nonetheless, Battlefield 2042 seems to be in good hands moving forwards. Byron Beede, Rebecka Coutaz, Christian Grass, Marcus Lehto, and Vince Zampella are strong leaders, but actions speak louder than words and a lot is riding on Battlefield 2042’s Season 1.
As always, I’ll keep you in the loop regarding Battlefield 2042.