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The Simultaneous Rise and Decline of Battlefield 208

Posted by Soulskill
from the profit-motive dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Ben Kuchera at Polygon recommends against buying the upcoming Battlefield Hardline first-person shooter. Not because it's bad — in fact, he doesn't really offer an opinion on how good the game is — but because it's time to stop incentivizing poor behavior from Electronic Arts and its Digital Illusions CE development studio. After EA acquired DICE, Battlefield game launches accelerated, and launch issues with each game were hand-waved away as unpredictable. The studio's principled stand against paid DLC evaporated in order to feed the ever-hungry beast of shareholder value. Kuchera says, "EA continues this because the Battlefield franchise is profitable; we as players have taught them that we'll buy anyway, and continue to support games that don't work at launch." He suggests avoiding pre-orders, and only buying the game if and when it's in a playable (and fun) state. "Every dollar that's spent on Hardline before the game comes out is a vote for things continuing down an anti-consumer path. If the game is a hit before its launch, that sends a message that we're OK with business as usual, and business as usual has become pretty terrible."
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The Simultaneous Rise and Decline of Battlefield

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 24, 2014 @03:26PM (#47309403)

    They'll keep buying the games as fast as EA pushes them out.

    • by ZahrGnosis (66741) on Tuesday June 24, 2014 @03:49PM (#47309625) Homepage

      I did it. I loved BF3, but I didn't pick up 4 and I won't be picking up Hardline because of EA. In addition to everything the original article mentions, most of which I agree with, one thing not mentioned in the original article is the pay-to-have-everything (which is not "Pay-to-win" only in a very strict sense, but that doesn't make it right).

      I don't mind these companies making money, but they do it at the expense of loyal customers, rather than in support of them... I don't think it's a good long-term practice, but that's just me. But it's definitely not nobody.

      • Roger, same here. I just don't "need" new games bad enough to eat their bullshit, and regardless there are other studios out there who don't practice this screw-the-customer-at-every-turn routine. It's typical corporate greed - yes, they can do everything just short of actually sending a goon to your house to rape you and your dog, and there will still be plenty of people who buy their crap and they'll still make a profit. But I don't have to be one of them.
        • by dow (7718)

          I also decided not to buy BF4, and have been playing Battlefield as part of a clan since BF2 was popular, every game and every expansion pack. I joked to my friends that I would be back for Battlefield 5 in around 12 months time. When Hardline was revealed, I realised I would probably never return to Battlefield.

        • I just don't "need" new games bad enough to eat their bullshit

          You do if your machine can't find other machines running the same game because the matchmaking servers have been permanently shut down [slashdot.org].

          • Eh, no. Not having access to the multiplayer capabilities of any game is not going to change much about my life - EA might wish it did, but at worst it'd be a minor inconvenience requiring the acquisition of some other entertainment (a 5-second endeavor).
      • I have bought pretty much every PC release of Battlefield. BF3 was the low point for me, with regular connectivity issues ruining the game, include a long period of EA blaming a DDoS attack. It is painful to be kicked off of server part way through a round because the DRM lost connection to EA servers... There were more in game bugs than an previous release. Origin is an added annoyance. The fact that I had spent $1000 upgrading my gaming PC for BF3 didn't help.

        BF4 seems to be been rushed out well befo

      • by Algae_94 (2017070) on Tuesday June 24, 2014 @06:19PM (#47310745) Journal

        I don't mind these companies making money, but they do it at the expense of loyal customers, rather than in support of them... I don't think it's a good long-term practice, but that's just me.

        Funny thing is your average hard drug dealer does the same thing. They make money at the detriment of their loyal customers. They know they'll keep coming back because they are horribly addicted and have nothing else to do. If they eventually do lose a customer, they find a new crowd of young customers that haven't gone through the cycle as many times to get jaded.

      • by Nyder (754090)

        I did it. I loved BF3, but I didn't pick up 4 and I won't be picking up Hardline because of EA. In addition to everything the original article mentions, most of which I agree with, one thing not mentioned in the original article is the pay-to-have-everything (which is not "Pay-to-win" only in a very strict sense, but that doesn't make it right).

        I don't mind these companies making money, but they do it at the expense of loyal customers, rather than in support of them... I don't think it's a good long-term practice, but that's just me. But it's definitely not nobody.

        I've been computer/console gaming since the early 80's and one thing I learned by the 90's. Never pre order any game. NEVER.

        Now as for the BF games, I'm on the Hardline Beta and I find the game sort of enjoyable. Now I only own BF3 because it was given away free a month or so ago. Don't plan on buying BF4 either.

        But as responsible consumers, people need to stop preordering games. All that does is make it easier for publishers to give you crap, since you already paid them up front. Make the compani

        • by nabsltd (1313397) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @07:43AM (#47314083)

          I've been computer/console gaming since the early 80's and one thing I learned by the 90's. Never pre order any game. NEVER.

          And, if having the game at the same time as other people isn't required for play (e.g., if multiplayer isn't your primary play style), then just wait until you can get the game at 20% of original cost.

          I've spent around $110 on the Steam summer sale, but I picked up 17 games, many of them "AAA", and by now I really know if the game stands the test of time.

        • by TheLink (130905)

          But as responsible consumers, people need to stop preordering games. All that does is make it easier for publishers to give you crap, since you already paid them up front. Make the companies earn your money!

          Does that apply to this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

          Some of the prices here look kinda steep: https://robertsspaceindustries... [robertsspa...stries.com] :)

      • by Xest (935314) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @05:46AM (#47313603)

        I think the article misses the way modern economies work too. It doesn't matter if it's profitable, shareholders nowadays want to see increasing profits year on year.

        You don't need millions of people to boycott it so that the production makes a loss, you only need thousands like yourself and I that mean it makes less money than it has in previous years.

        If there's no profit growth, investors will start to notice and start asking questions and demanding a change in direction.

        So yes, absolutely boycott, you can make a different, you don't need everyone to boycott, just enough to give up on it each year that it suffers declining sales.

    • They'll keep buying the games as fast as EA pushes them out.

      Only for so long. Crap on your customers long enough with shoddy products, and eventually they avoid all of your products. See also Microsoft Windows in the mobile realm; where once they had a huge chunk of mobile device OS marketshare (viz. WinCE), they now have a share that is barely larger than statistical noise (2.1% by the most charitable metric I could find on short notice).

      I can see EA losing their grip in a couple of years. After all, you can only crap out so many iterations of "Madden", no?

      • After all, you can only crap out so many iterations of "Madden", no?

        As long as NFL players keep being drafted and retiring, and as long as players want to play as the home team as it exists this year, EA will be able to get away with issuing annually updated versions of Madden NFL. If you want to shut down Madden, you'll have to first shut down college football long enough that the NFL loses its farm system. You could try the CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) angle.

      • by cbhacking (979169)

        OT, but you didn't look very hard at all, then. The very first links on Google for "Smartphone Market Share" show WP with 3.2-3.3% for Q1 2014, and on a rising trajectory. (https://www.comscore.com/Insights/Market-Rankings/comScore-Reports-March-2014-US-Smartphone-Subscriber-Market-Share). The top (non-Wikipedia) link on Bing for the same search is less precise but says 3%. (http://www.cio.com/article/751867/U.S._Smartphone_Market_Share_Numbers_for_Q1_2014). Those are US numbers; the European numbers are si

        • by drkstr1 (2072368)
          Due to the amount of product placement I've seen, I've grown to distrust anyone who cites bing as a source. I'm not saying it's a bad search engine, just that a citation of it in a clearly pro winphone post makes anything you say highly suspect. I would go as far as saying that the shilling is so obvious, I may have been duped into feeding the trolls... again.
        • OT, but you didn't look very hard at all, then. The very first links on Google for "Smartphone Market Share" show WP with 3.2-3.3% for Q1 2014, and on a rising trajectory. (https://www.comscore.com/Insights/Market-Rankings/comScore-Reports-March-2014-US-Smartphone-Subscriber-Market-Share). The top (non-Wikipedia) link on Bing for the same search is less precise but says 3%. (http://www.cio.com/article/751867/U.S._Smartphone_Market_Share_Numbers_for_Q1_2014). Those are US numbers; the European numbers are significantly higher. It's still the third-place platform, but it *is* third place behind the two giants.

          What's in fourth place? As it stands today there are only three horses and the other two are miles away.

      • by bane2571 (1024309)
        Unfortunately that is not the case, The computer gaming demographic may have shifted somewhat in recent years but it's still approximately a window of 5-10 years. In such a small window you can keep making the same mistakes and people that get sick of it are going to be leaving out the top of the age range anyway. There will always be new, young audiences that come in at the bottom.

        Best case scenario is you draw a line for yourself and live happy ignoring companies that aren't doing what you want. The ove
        • by Chatsubo (807023)

          I wonder whether kids starting to PC game now even know that once-upon-a-time games worked decently out the box. Whether they ever contemplate the possibility of a game working on the first day...

          Is that even something they've ever seen before? I've been to the BF forums and from what I saw the answer is "No". There are plenty of fanboys in there who defend EA/DICE in this regard. Since, you know: "We *all* know games always have problems at release".

      • by Hodr (219920)

        So if you could only own one video game at a time (like most people only have one cell phone with one OS), then the market can shift like you propose.

        But that isn't the case, and for many a video game (even at $60) is an impulse buy. It doesn't have to be the best, or even all that good, to maintain a decent market share.

    • by OakDragon (885217)
      If the game is "good enough" (i.e., the consumer weighs the good vs. bad and the good comes out on top), it will be bought. No need to punish EA if you're fine with what they're doing.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 24, 2014 @06:09PM (#47310679)

      Nope, I opted out after my experience with BF3. Still haven't bought BF4 and don't plan to. Definitely won't bother with Hardline.

      The problem with all the paid map packs is that it fractures the player base and massively lowers the server populations. Even if you can afford everything, not everyone can. So the game quickly segments because not everyone is running the same maps. If you have the vanilla maps and back to karkand, you can play on vanilla servers and b2k servers. But you can't play on servers running the other map packs. And people who don't own B2K can't play with you when you're on a server that runs B2K maps. So no matter where you go, you don't have as many choices as if everyone was part of the same map-owning population.

      One other bad idea was introducing such an intense equipment/weapon grind in BF3, because even though it got me to play BF3 a lot more, it also soured me on the entire idea of playing the game going forward. Most of my memories of BF3 are of grinding out weapons on high ticket Metro Meatgrinder servers. In my memory, most of the game was dominated by grinding instead of playing. There was grinding in BF2, but it was a grand total of half a dozen weapons and everyone had them all pretty quickly. There weren't 20 different attachments for each weapon and 30 different subtly different assault rifles, etc. Maybe it made the gameplay less varied, but in BF2 people mostly just focused on playing the game instead of grinding unlocks. The medal grinding in BF2 didn't seem as big an annoyance.

    • by demachina (71715)

      There is a pretty obvious solution to the steep decline in modern games. Its the same solution that was found to over priced, proprietary, commerical operating systems.

      We need an open source gaming system. Its probably the only escape from eternal damnation to over priced, poorly designed, crap games.

      Some critical issues need to addressed up front for it to work.

      For starters you need to settle on an open source gaming engine. Torque3D would be one possibility, people here could probably name others. It

      • by tepples (727027)

        You need to develop a small number of core games based on the essential archetypes, FPS, MMORPG, Space battle/trading, racing.

        Who would fund the development of these?

        • by demachina (71715)

          Game engines already exist. People already develop content though you kind of need a working and enjoyable game first, with some content, before people will develop more content for it.

          Who funded Linux development in the early days, answer, noone? Would need to be a volunteer effort to some extent.

          Hopefully Carmack will be disillusioned with working for Facebook soon and do it for love of gaming and graphics programming.

          Kickstarter is the obvious answer if you really want cash.

          • Who funded Linux development in the early days, answer, noone?

            Linux might not be the best analogy because it had a clear set of requirements to follow, namely POSIX. Video games are far more underspecified unless they are simulations of an existing board game or outdoor sport. The theory of what makes an operating system efficient is far more fleshed out than what makes a game fun. This means there's no objective measure of something being "better" to settle disputes among contributors' competing visions.

    • by ADRA (37398)

      I'll wait for EA games on Steam, and I've been quite happy blissfully ignoring any and all new EA releases.

    • DiCE was bought out in 2004, Battlefield 1942 came out in 2002.

      Did anyone play BF 1942 when it came out? It was still far buggier than to BF2 or BF3 on release. It's just that people didn't care back then because:

      • It was ground-breakingly awesome.
      • Computers just crashed randomly anyway back then because a lot of folks were still using non-NT Windows systems.

      I think it's been a long standing policy to push forward on optimisation and game refinement at the expence of stability. Which does work for a lot of te

      • by Mal-2 (675116)

        I think it's been a long standing policy to push forward on optimisation and game refinement at the expence of stability. Which does work for a lot of teams and seems to be standard practice in Sweedish studios, which can be inferred by looking at games like Magica, Goat Simulator or even to a lesser extent Minecraft. You cannot blame EA for this.

        It's a fair bit different when you pay $15 for a game that is announced as still being in alpha (or $20/beta, or to a lesser extent, even $25/release) when it comes to tolerating bugs. Paying $60 for a game, and then being forced to buy content on top of it, certainly makes any remaining problems a lot less acceptable. Also, Minecraft has always had an emphasis on privately owned servers that cost nothing to set up, meaning that I'm not the least bit concerned they might "turn off the lights" some day.

    • The last Battlefield game that I bought was BF 2. How about you?

    • They'll keep buying the games as fast as EA pushes them out.

      I don't know, boycotting worked well for Modern Warfare 2 [dbzer0.com] (JPEG, SFW)

    • by bmk67 (971394)

      "They" might, but I won't. The last EA game I bought was BF2.

  • by Thatto (258697) <boogiechillin@gmai l . c om> on Tuesday June 24, 2014 @03:28PM (#47309423) Journal
    Pay for Value.
  • by NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) on Tuesday June 24, 2014 @03:31PM (#47309457)
    You say EA pumps out crap games and people buy them in droves anyways? Do tell.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 24, 2014 @03:32PM (#47309463)

    I've been pirating their games for years. According to industry numbers, I've done millions of dollars in damage. If we all band together, we can bankrupt the company.

    Unless they're wholly full of shit about the piracy issue, and we all know that EA wouldn't lie to us.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 24, 2014 @04:23PM (#47309977)

      The main problem is that so many people confuse not gaining something with losing something.

      • by Lotana (842533)

        Yes. It is called "Opportunity Cost". It is proven and valid.

        Here is an extremely simple example: I earn $20 an hour. I can go work for 8 hours or play a game for 8 hours. If I work, I get $160. If I game, I don't get anything (In monetary measure anyway).

        Therefore, by gaming I just lost $160 that I could of had.

        So, to bring it to the issue at hand: EA's game costs $50. There are 1000 teenagers salivating to play it. If they all buy it: EA gets $50,000.

        However, 500 pirated. Therefore EA got $25,000 instead.

        • Yes. It is called "Opportunity Cost". It is proven and valid.

          Here is an extremely simple example: I earn $20 an hour. I can go work for 8 hours or play a game for 8 hours. If I work, I get $160. If I game, I don't get anything (In monetary measure anyway).

          Therefore, by gaming I just lost $160 that I could of had.

          So, to bring it to the issue at hand: EA's game costs $50. There are 1000 teenagers salivating to play it. If they all buy it: EA gets $50,000.

          However, 500 pirated. Therefore EA got $25,000 instead. Thus piracy costs them $25,000 in opportunity cost.

          So by not gaining, you do indeed lose something.

          Maybe I should put in a claim for all the money I've not earned while playing games/listening to music/watching films then.

        • by GuB-42 (2483988)

          The idea of opportunity cost is valid, however saying that all pirates would have bought the game is wrong, and that's how they inflate their numbers.

          If we somehow managed to make piracy impossible, would be pirates could simply not play the game.
          - because they don't have the budget
          - because it's not easily available
          - because of restrictions (invasive DRM, internet connection, ...)
          - because the competition is cheaper (Photoshop piracy probably hurt Paint Shop Pro more than Photoshop itself)

    • And how much music have you downloaded? You've done even more damage. No wonder the financial crisis happened!
  • Is this the same Dice Holdings Inc. that owns /.?
  • A more general rule is simply to never buy a pig in a poke. The origin of that expression is literally from Medieval times!

  • So is BF rising or falling? Which is it? Rising in popularity? Falling in quality?

  • by Crashmarik (635988) on Tuesday June 24, 2014 @03:52PM (#47309663)

    Gamers have always been willing to accept virtually non existent levels of software quality and never seem willing to hold the developers feet to the fire over the issues. If you look at most MMOs they seem to use design flaws as content these days balance problems and re-balancing combat/roles seem to be top design failures with very little legitimate cause.

  • No thanks... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday June 24, 2014 @03:57PM (#47309731) Homepage

    BF4 was completely unplayable. It was early alpha quality that they pushed out. I am NEVER buying another game from that franchise again. EA can stuff it in their rear end.

  • I'm in the beta and I can see people enjoying it that enjoy games like cs:go, payday, etc... I don't see why people hate, just don't buy it if you don't want to play it. I agree not to pre-order most games since they drop in price usually a couple weeks later. I enjoy the frostbyte engine over most fps, engines. I'm sure it will have its click of players if they support it right.
  • by ScienceofSpock (637158) <keith.greene@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Tuesday June 24, 2014 @04:12PM (#47309895) Homepage
    The only GOOD Battlefield was BF 1942 and its expansions. When BF:Vietnam came out and allowed picking any primary class with any secondary class, it just ruined the game, killed cooperation and turned it into a free-for-all.
  • So long as big, publicly-owned companies are churning out games they are generally only going to consider profit and perception by shareholders as the end goal.

    Companies who create a good game for the sake of the game itself can often see profits as a result of their dedication -- the end goal is always putting out a game which is as good as that studio can feasibly put out. $$$ is welcome, but secondary. For this reason, I am an advocate for game developers to stay privately owned. If I hear about a
  • ...I feel the same way about Ticketmaster.

    .
  • the bean counters will never understand how software is developed and I am not talking about inhibiting profitability but how to increase profitability. Instead they compare software development with factories and wants square blocks of 'workload' outlining a project and when that is not working they just add more blocks or extend overtime reducing profitability even more. They hate hearing that software development is an art or like a green house where some pots needs more water than other and some needs f
  • Join the EA boycott!

    What about the good games, you ask?

    Look at all the money you would have saved by not buying these pieces of shit:

    Battlefield 3 - "You'll have to buy this, or else nobody will be around to play with you" DLC
    The new Sim City
    The new Sim City - "Expansion pack that adds nothing players wanted and a ton of stuff nobody cares about" Expansion pack
    The Sims 3 - "You already bought this expansion twice before" Expansion Pack
    Battlefield 4(ever ridden with bugs)

    And in the future:

    Battlefield 4 DLC -

  • "he doesn't really offer an opinion on how good the game is"

    The game's not out yet. But odds are, based on every other entry in the franchise, it will be terribly broken and buggy at launch and the servers won't stay up. That's the point of the article.

  • The only way that the studios will ever get the message is if parents refuse to buy this garbage for their children. Older gamers are a minority of the market. There are plenty of gamers in the 18-30 age bracket who will continue to buy this garbage. The only way out is for parents who game, to make wise choices for their children.

    It will take a generation to change things, but it can happen.

    I finally learned my lesson, but I am guilty of pre-ordering way too many crap releases from EA. BF4 was the last

    • Older gamers are a minority of the market.

      For one thing, that depends on how you define "older". The average age of a gamer is early thirties [theesa.com]. For another, a lot of these first-person shooters are rated M by ESRB because they're so violent. This means responsible stores won't sell them to minors and warn parents about buying them for minors.

      I think the best that we, as a community, can hope for is that enough people exercise impulse control and wait to buy the game until the price is reduced once or twice.

      That doesn't help if the only reason for a discount is that the sequel with an updated roster is out. How many people are willing to buy a sports game whose rosters are outdated and whose multiplayer matchmaking

      • by dave562 (969951)

        That is a really interesting PDF. I never would have guessed that the average gamer is 31 years old.

        I was thinking about the multi-player server stranglehold while I was typing my post, so it is interesting that you brought it up. I do not know if anything can be done about it. I cannot conceive of any legal way to obligate companies to keep infrastructure online, and as much as it might benefit me, I would be opposed to governmental intervention in the matter.

        While we might rant about these subjects on

  • I've played a lot of BF, since owning 1942 on release day. I can't think of a version I've missed (though I've stopped buying expansion packs).

    That said, I stopped buying on release day a while ago. My gaming time is maybe 2% of what it was a decade or so ago, so it's valuable and not to be wasted on buggy releases and bad games.

  • ...developed by DICE this time. If the article poster in question actually knew anything about BF:HL he/she would know this...
  • As a season pass holder, I stopped playing a long time ago, what a waste of money. I avoid EA games as far as can, the only one that kept me coming back was BF series. Meh, burned their bridge.

  • RealityMod on stock BF2 is the only FPS We will ever need. It still to this day gets updates (v1.2 just got released May-2014), the community based effort has fostered a higher production value than any of the commercial crap getting pumped out (they produce all their own high quality textures, record all their own sounds for every weapon, and had access to military equipment for recording the "big booms"), the gameplay is incredibly immersive, and team based tactics/strategy is the only way to win.

    h [realitymod.com]
  • I've never been a great FPS player, but I do enjoy the genre, or at least I used to. (Apparently, kids these days think camping at spawn points is cool. In my day, that would get you kicked.) I really liked BF2. I liked hopping in anti aircraft batteries and gibbetting whole groups of people until inevitably someone stuck a bomb on the back on detonated it. Loads of fun. When I got BF3, I thought, "What the fuck is this?" Every gun, every add-on had to be unlocked. It was stupid, and made an already frustr

  • Nothing new. EA is still being EA. People are still calling for boycotts of EA. People are still getting excited about the trailers and preordering anyway. You have to get the special pre-order items, right?

    I haven't bought an EA game in a very long time because their bad behavior has been going on for over a decade. If you think gamers are going to boycott them rather than getting sucked up in all the hype you haven't been paying attention. Don't let that stop you from trying though.

  • For me, BF2 already was on the edge of decency.

    I already stopped buying BF3 and BF4, this is why:
    - I dont want DLC forced on me. I want to buy it once for 40 bucks and play it forever.
    - I dont want to earn better weapons. I want to play it at once, not being able to blame losing on that opponents superior riffle.
    - I dont want to have to buy a new computer. I want to play it for 40 bucks.
    - I dont want to pay 60 bucks. I want to play it for 40 bucks.

    Sadly there are not much vehicle centered first person war g

  • I stopped caring about the Battlefield franchise after 2142, not because of the bundled content, but because of the rich community of modders around it.

    I spent countless hours playing fun things like Pirates, or the "starwars" clones Galactic Conquest [moddb.com] & First Strike [fsmod.com], and even some mods that later spawned official content such as Eve of Destruction [eodmod.org] (Vietnam) and Desert Combat [moddb.com] (2). When you got bored of mindlessly shooting others, you could race with cars in fantastic impossible "stunt" like racetracks wi

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