A milestone marker on the continued missteps of Electronic Arts is the rushed release of Battlefield 4. If alpha/beta testers were anything to go by, the game still needed time for tweaking. EA was having none of it and had a deadline with their holiday season destiny. Unfortunately, Battlefield 4 became a prime example of how not to release AAA titles that need fixing and patching before being put into the hands of the general public. A producer at DICE has finally acknowledged this.
A year removed from the travesty that was the launch of Battlefield 4 – rife with all sorts of networking bugs and save game wipes – DICE producer David Sirland finally came out to express empathy for consumers who were put on the receiving end of a broken product, telling Gamespot...
"I can absolutely say that we lost [player] trust in the game's launch and the early parts of the year," ... "We still probably have a lot of players who won't trust us to deliver a stable launch or a stable game. I don't want to say anything because I want to do. I want them to look at what we're doing and what we are going to do and that would be my answer. I think we have to do things to get them to trust us, not say things to get them to trust us. Show by doing."
The inherent brokenness of Battlefield 4 became a documented case of product negligence on the part of Electronic Arts. Said negligence did not go unnoticed by their shareholders, resulting in three class action lawsuits.
Gamers, meanwhile, decided that enough was enough and when Battlefield Hardline was announced they took the opportunity to decry the game greatly and even went as far as warning people not to buy the game during the alpha test that took place this past summer. The massive blow-back from potential consumers forced EA to delay Battlefield Hardline into 2015.
Ever since the delay there has been a damage control campaign to ensure and reinforce to potential buyers that the game will work at launch, a sad and pitiful marketing ploy if I ever saw one. Essentially, EA and Visceral Gamers are attempting to convince customers “Hey, our product will work at launch this time... we promise... really!”
Sirland stated that the reason for a lot of the launch hiccups is that Battlefield games are generally huge projects (I agree)...
"It's just a giant project, any Battlefield game is a giant project," ... "And the more input you can get early, the better, and the more you can be open with changes you're making or ideas you have, the better, I think. Because our community is much smarter than we probably give them credit for."
Not giving consumers proper respect has been a massive issue in the AAA sector for quite some time. Lying about the potentiality of a product, the state of its development or how well it'll work at launch will never fly because someone is always going to be there to call it out.
What was that famous quote by Gabe Newell in that Nerdist interview? Oh right... it was this...
"One of the things we learned pretty early on is 'Don't ever, ever try to lie to the internet - because they will catch you.'"
The reality is that EA could have avoided just about all the controversy surrounding Battlefield 4's launch – and the subsequent hate that spilled on over to Battlefield Hardline – had they just delayed Battlefield 4 and ensured that the product was right proper for release instead of trying to get the game out within the holiday season to compete with Call of Duty and eat into Activision's market share. The plan backfired horribly.
Sirland acknowledges that earning back the trust of the gamer is a big goal for the company, noting...
"I think we have to earn [consumer trust] back. That's why I'm here. That's my end goal. I want to earn our trust back and I want to make them happy and like Battlefield again."
Well good luck on that, Sirland. Battlefield Hardline has been hit hard and heavy with a lot of negative impressions from the gaming community. Personally? I'm kind of looking forward to the game because I love the cops versus robbers theme, but I don't trust the former two-time Worst Company in America for as far as I can spit.