This week EA lifted the lid on its next Battlefield game, Battlefield 2042. While the company wasted no time talking up its scale, size, and scope—all while eschewing a single-player campaign in favour of a story that will “develop through the live service”—it missed a trick or twenty with Battlefield 2042’s price. It should have been free-to-play.
Reason being, there doesn’t seem to be any real reason to justify its $70/Rs. 4,499 price tag. Sure you get multiplayer game modes such as Conquest, Breakthrough, and Hazard Zone, as well as a yet to be announced additional mode to be revealed on July 22, but when you look at the competition and what they’re doing, it just feels like a wanton cash grab.
That’s before you consider that it will feature four seasons of content during its first year. This means there will be a Battle Pass per season with both free and premium tiers, new specialists, and maps.
All of this suggests EA believes that the Battlefield IP is strong enough to be a premium, above full-price experience complete with monetisation hooks not too dissimilar from the likes of PUBG, Fortnite, Destiny 2, Call of Duty: Warzone, and its own Apex Legends—all of which feature some form of recurring revenue in terms of seasonal content and battle passes.
However the major difference is, most of the aforementioned games are free or in the case of Destiny 2, a free base game with paid expansions and as for PUBG, it’s $30 in the US, Rs. 999 on PC and Rs. 1,999 on consoles. Point is, the cost of entry is a lot less in these games versus Battlefield 2042—with a lot more content to boot.
Besides, it’s not like we haven’t seen this kind of approach play out before. Case in point: Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 and EA’s own Titanfall 1, both of which sold poorly in markets where shooters tend to do well like India. It’s as if the company hasn’t learned from its past endeavours with shipping games minus any single-player component.
Nonetheless, according to Dice General Manager Oskar Gabrielson, Battlefield 2042’s single-player mode was killed off in favour of a multiplayer-only experience.
“This allows us to focus. We really want to push the scale here and deliver on our three key multiplayer experiences,” he said. “That decision has allowed us to focus our efforts and really deliver on a number of quality-of-life improvements, and that’s a really important thing for us. We’ll still be able to deliver a compelling narrative within the world that we’re building and, as you’ll see, the world and the narrative will develop through the live service, and through the eyes of the Specialists.”
Sure, this may allow EA and Dice to craft some form of story, but when you consider what’s available for free it just makes Battlefield 2042 seem like poor value. Unless of course the strategy is to make it the sacrificial lamb at the altar of its EA Play and EA Play Pro offerings — a game that exists to simply prop up the company’s subscription services.
And granted one could argue that this is “fans” want, much like EA has in its press release, the fact of the matter is, this approach could result in Battlefield 2042 having a smaller audience compared to other major shooters out right now.
Perhaps the rumours of a potential release on Xbox Game Pass ring true because as it stands, Battlefield 2042 may end up being an extremely expensive experiment before EA decides to invest in its own Warzone-killer.