As much as I think gamers and the gaming press in general are prone to histrionics, the ongoing saga of Battlefield 4 is cause for legitimate concern. While I have faith that DICE will eventually get the game working in almost tip-top shape, the whole process of Battlefield 4, from the
demo Beta in early October to the mangled launch and the current state of the game has been quite the snafu.
The rumor out there is that EA rushed DICE to have Battlefield 4 drop on PC and previous generation consoles (the Xbox 360 and the PS3) on October 29, two weeks before the release of Call of Duty: Ghosts, sacrificing time needed to finish the actual game for a few extra sales. While the actual validity of this fact is up for debate, EA/DICE have a long history of taking potshots at Call of Duty and doing whatever they can to one-up Activision’s FPS juggernaut.
With lawsuits pending, future projects and DLC being delayed and more bugs than you can shake a stick at, has the rocky launch of Battlefield 4 shaken our faith in EA/DICE and cast aspersions on the future of the series?
While the technical side of Battlefield 4 is certainly messed up, the most demoralizing part of this whole escapade has been DICE’s tone-deaf attitude towards players. While they do acknowledge the issues (in a very off-hand sort of way), every release from DICE is so tinged with marketing speak that it’s hard to take any press release seriously.
While small things like the Battlefield 4 Control Room, which tracks the issues across the various platforms along with the current status of various bugs (whether DICE has replicated the bug accurately and what the ETA of a fix is) do go some way towards helping, various public figures in DICE have been making a variety of faux pas on Twitter that sort of belie the fact that the team is working hard on fixing their game.
Take these tweets from Daniel Matros, the former Global Community Manager on Battlefield 3 who now occupies a nebulous “producer” role in Battlefield 4 for example. While taking time away from work is essential to someone’s sanity, asking these kinds of questions on a public forum either accounts for trolling or a crippling display of ignorance. While it may be tempting to disconnect yourself completely from a product you’ve spent the last who knows how long working on, I also find it kind of hard to believe that anyone at DICE is unaware of the sorry state of their product.
Displaying this kind of oblivious attitude towards a product that has caused millions of customers grief paints an exceptionally bad picture of the whole situation. True, Matross is just one person, but he used to be the Global Community Manager so if anyone should know better, it’s him.
This isn’t the first time DICE and EA have bungled a Battlefield launch, and I doubt it will be the last, either. There are DICE apologists out there saying that the game will get better over time and while that may be the case, the somewhat farcical proceedings of Battlefield 4, from launch to now, might have irreversibly damaged DICE’s credibility. I’m willing to cut them some slack given the massive scope of Battlefield 4, but for a game that’s asking price amounts to around $120 once you include Battlefield 4 Premium, paying twice for a single game and getting it delivered slice by working slice month over month (with inevitable setbacks as patches that fix some issues create others) really stings.
The saga of Battlefield 4 has stunk from the very beginning, from the lack of any warning from anyone that this game might be messed up at launch, to the almost complete silence from DICE outside of the official (locked) update threads on Battlelog to the lack of a simple apology from either EA or DICE (and no, a 3x pistol scope and some extra XP doesn’t count).
We know you messed up and there must be a five-alarm fire over at DICE, but I haven’t seen any sign of an apology from anyone at EA or Karl-Magnus Troedsson, DICE’s CEO. I get that it’s hard to apologize, but you already have our money and we can’t get a refund because it’s EA (short of trading the game in) so just say sorry. It will go a long way with the players. In the age of the Internet, sweeping things under the rug with PR doesn’t work anymore. For every message from DICE claiming that they’re working on the issues and that a few people are affected by them, there’s many more people making YouTube videos or Tweeting about it. EA and DICE have shot themselves in the foot with Battlefield 4, and the series has a long way to go to recover.