As we near the official launch of Battlefield V, I've grown more and more excited about the game. I blame a resurgent interest in all things World War II for this. Every now and then I go through a WWII phase where I read a bunch of histories, watch a ...and more »
Battlefield V's multiple confusing release dates and tone-deaf marketing have dampened excitement for the game.Credit: EA
As we near the official launch of Battlefield V, I've grown more and more excited about the game.
I blame a resurgent interest in all things World War II for this. Every now and then I go through a WWII phase where I read a bunch of histories, watch a bunch of movies and even play some board games all having to do with the second Great War.
Which inevitably makes me want to play WWII video games. And while there are plenty of those, there aren't a ton of new ones. Last year's Call of Duty:WWII was really fun (yes, I know, that's a controversial claim but it was one of my favorite games of the past 12 months or so) but it's been out a while now and I find myself itching for a new WWII shooter.
Battlefield games aren't my favorite shooters, but Battlefield V looks genuinely good. The problem is, EA and DICE have really made a mess of the game's marketing, and it doesn't help that there's several different release dates that create different jumping in points for different gamers. These are:
November 9th for First Premium Origin Access members on PC (full game)
November 9th for regular Origin Access members (10 hour demo)
November 15th for Deluxe Edition pre-order customers.
November 20th for everybody else, when the game officially launches.
That's a lot of different times/ways to play the game this month depending on what you subscribe to and what edition you purchase. The really cruddy thing about it, though, is that really the game launched on November 9th and everyone who didn't pay up for the premium subscription service just has to wait an extra 6 or 11 days to gain access to the game.
Battlefield V is already out. It's already launched. But you don't get to play it yet unless you pay more than MSRP. Even if you pre-order the Deluxe Edition you're still barred from accessing a game that's already been released for a few days, because this is what greed looks like, folks. It's bad for the game, for the community and just generally a bad practice.
This comes on top of what I can only describe as a monumental marketing fail on EA's part. Let's look at a few of the ways this game has been bungled since announcement:
The reveal trailer was tonally bizarre, making the game look less like a serious WWII experience and more like a goofy, overly-saturated steampunk game. Right from the bat nobody knew what to expect from this game, so when we later saw a much grittier looking trailer we were simply more confused than ever.
Right from the get-go this game has never had the strong, defining moment that Battlefield I had from its very first reveal trailer. It's been a tonal mess, fraught with mixed messages and awkward announcements.
Battlefield VCredit: EA
Adding to the confusion, DICE mentioned a new Battle Royale mode twice without giving us any details, then gave us an incredibly brief glimpse of the Firestorm mode later on before finally confirming that it wouldn't even launch with the game and would come out months later in March of 2019, well after the battle royale craze has settled down to a simmer.
The Target Audience
Much of the marketing has been geared toward attracting female gamers, apparently, with a female soldier on the cover and an emphasis on female characters in the single-player vignettes. I'm perfectly fine with women in games like this, and have no bone to pick with that decision, but it is an incredibly odd marketing choice given that this game will A) be predominantly played by young men and boys and B) is a historical shooter about a war predominantly fought by young men and boys.
I suspect marketing the game as a more traditional WWII entry (similar to Battlefield I) would have been far more effective.
Predictably, when some fans were upset that the game seemed to try so hard to be woke, the reaction from EA only made matters worse when the company told people who didn't like it to just not buy the game---something that may very well be happening given Battlefield V's lackluster pre-order sales.
Battlefield VCredit: EA
"[W]e don’t take any flak," EA chief creative officer Patrick Soderlund told Gamasutra. "We stand up for the cause, because I think those people who don’t understand it, well, you have two choices: either accept it or don’t buy the game. I’m fine with either or. It’s just not ok."
It's never a great idea to tell your customers to not buy your product, especially while painting them as wrong-thinking sexists. It's quite likely that some are indeed sexist, but many gamers who play historic shooters do care about historical accuracy. (And yes, I know that Battlefield games are hardly historically accurate in general, but EA wants to have its cake and eat it too when it comes to creating immersive, realistic experiences.)
Many others are simply annoyed that a game about WW2 is being used as any kind of political cause to begin with---beyond the politics of the war itself, of course.
Meanwhile, the gaming press has churned out a string of articles berating gamers for their concerns over historical accuracy, offering up plenty of examples of how of course there were women in WWII while failing to see the point of these concerns in the first place. But hey, as we all know it's quite fun to insult your audience, as the Diablo Immortal fiasco recently reminded us.
More than anything, it feels like EA and DICE are simply very out-of-touch with their target demographic. By all means, include women in the game, but don't try to earn brownie points by making it seem like you're championing some social cause. EA wants to make money, not change the world.
I just want a good WW2 shooter.
Battlefield 5Credit: EA/DICE
It really does look like DICE has learned from the game's alpha and beta and I think the game itself will be fun, gorgeous to look at, and hopefully really good. I have high hopes for its single-player stories and multiplayer modes and I think it's the perfect game for a battle royale as well.
But the runup to launch has been a mess and EA isn't helping itself by alienating gamers through weird release dates and marketing that feels almost intentionally out-of-touch with the game's fanbase.
I'll dive into the game when I return from travels next week and report back accordingly.
Here's the (very good) launch trailer:
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