EA Plans Multi-Pronged ‘Battlefield’ Blitz

Electronic Arts (EA) announced Thursday plans to release new installments of its “Battlefield” (BF) video game franchise this year. Developed by Dice, the game publisher will launch three new versions of the World War II-era game.

The first title, “Battlefield 1943,” will be released during the summer of 2009 via the PlayStation Store, Xbox Live Marketplace and on the PC. The new multiplayer game is intended to prepare gamers for the follow-up to the popular 2008 release, “Battlefield: Bad Company.” “Battlefield: Bad Company 2” will launch later with versions slated for the Xbox 360 and PS3 gaming consoles as well as the PC.

A third installment, “Battlefield Heroes,” is currently taking names for gamers interested in signing up for its beta release.

“I was incredibly enthusiastic about the announcement of ‘Battlefield: 1943.’ One my best experiences playing games was playing the original ‘Battlefield: 1942,'” said Mark deLoura, an independent gaming expert, told TechNewsWorld.

Marching to the Frontlines

“Battlefield 1943” will use the same Frostbite engine as earlier versions, which allows players to wreak havoc and destroy the bulk of the buildings, vegetation, vehicles and virtually anything else around them — even the ground is fair game.

The game supports up to 24 players with action that evolves over three locations — Wake Island, Guadalcanal and Iwo Jima. Gamers will be able to battle their foes in aerial dog fights and intense trench combat, according to EA.

“Bad Company 2” will bring even more challenges to gamers with more vehicles, destruction and team play, said Karl Magnus Troedsson, executive producer for the “Battlefield” franchise at Dice. Other than that, not much information has been released regarding “Bad Company 2” and “Battlefield Heroes.”

Getting Crafty With It

Releasing the games across multiple platforms starting with online console marketplaces is a very savvy move, said DeLoura.

“I think it’s very crafty of EA to target digital downloads first. Selling the game via download automatically filters for gamers who are connected to the Internet, and since this game is largely a multiplayer experience, that’s very smart,” he noted.

“Also, digital download leads to an instant-gratification download behavior, which I also think will benefit this game greatly since it is from a known franchise. My only concern would be the size of download, and how many maps they can fit — but they could alleviate that with a crafty map-pack DLC (downloadable content) strategy,” DeLoura added.

What EA and other game publishers do is push action/adventure and shooter games to the consumer segments where retail spending is strongest; that makes the launch sequence interesting, Kurt Scherf, principal analyst at Parks Associates, told TechNewsWorld.

“So, our ‘power gamer’ segment, the kind that would be looking at the ‘Battlefiled’ game, is spending (US)$146 a month in software on average. It’s kind of like what the studios do with releasing movies through the channels. They get ‘X’ percent at the theater and another big percentage at DVD. The game developers work the same way — target the core gamers first on the console and then work through the other different distribution paths,” he explained.

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