There’s an interesting phenomenon in the gaming industry. Although social media shows opinionated gamers reacting quickly and strongly, the sales figures are usually one game behind when reflecting that passion.
EA’s version of Battlefront was critically panned, but still extremely successful, selling 14 million copies. Although the pre-release open beta blatantly showed the shortcomings of ineffective map design and boring shooting mechanics, it couldn’t stop the hype.
Star Wars has always been a popular property and was especially so with The Force Awakens releasing just one month later. Toss in two critically acclaimed Battlefront games from the PS2-era and EA had a project that couldn’t miss.
Battlefront 2 will suffer the consequences
My prediction is that gamers will do what they traditionally do and judge a game based on their last experience.
The new Battlefront promises more robust single-player content, and an actual campaign, fixing two of the major issues. With the foundation of a jaw-droppingly beautiful engine and reusable assets already in place, DICE had plenty of time to play their first game and focus on improving the core mechanics of the next outing.
But it doesn’t matter how good the next Battlefront is. I predict it will under-perform financially because the majority of those 14 million feel burnt by the first game. They’ll feel their love of Star Wars and Battlefront was used and abused. They expected to relive the glory of the original games, enjoying split-screen campaigns with friends, but were instead dumped into large open spaces to snipe at medium-long range with pistols. Forced to grind for jump-packs and powerful guns if they ever hoped to compete in the online-only snooze-fest.
Battlefront 2 could earn top reviews, win awards, and enjoy plenty of great word-of-mouth, but it won’t ever each 14 million. It could still sell several million to core gamers in the know, but the mainstream market that doesn’t follow games media won’t be there this time. They blew it.