What's With EA Shooters And Longevity?

We've all seen and felt the winds of change in Star Wars: Battlefront. It started off with a bang, before people realised there just wasn't much to the game and left in droves to play one of the many other cool games vying for our time. We've been through this before though, and recently.

Battlefront isn't a failure — the developers stated from the beginning they were making a game that the average Star Wars fan could pick up and enjoy, regardless of gaming experience. That's a goal they achieved. The sights and sounds of the game are incredible, and you really do feel like you're in the Star Wars universe. The Jakku battle is also a brilliant way to tie the game together with the movie.

But even after a brief play session with the game at EB Expo, I was worried about it. There were balance issues, it seemed random, and it lacked depth. That much was obvious after just a couple of rounds. You could jump in, feel like you were in a Star Wars battle, and that's where it stopped. There weren't any underlying systems to learn, not much in the way of mechanics and dynamics to master, and no sense of strategy beyond getting in the best vehicle you could. Certainly no one will will take the game to the next level — no clans will be formed, no competitions held.

At the moment of writing this, there are less than 9,000 people playing SW: Battlefront on PC, and about ten times that amount playing on PS4. To compare, there are about 20,000 people playing Battlefield 4 on PC right now. CS:GO has almost 400,000 people playing right now, with double that as its 24-hour peak, and has spent next to nothing on advertising (though, to be fair, is often very well-placed on the Steam front page).

Not too long ago, we were saying the same things about Titanfall. That game, too, was bursting at the seams with hype. That game, too, saw a month or two of play before becoming a wasteland. I remember plenty of Youtube videos titled "Titanfall Movement Tutorial: Part 1". In fact, I did one too! Part 2 never came. People stopped playing.

That was because Titanfall, on launch, included no way for you to load up a map and actually practice your wall running and jumping. It was hard to figure out the best way to get from A to B because there was always an actual match happening around you. People who wanted to take the game further needed to know how to rotate from one site to another quickly, having a grenade in the window one second before they enter.

With Battlefront, I don't even think we're seeing many "Part 1" tutorials. What's to learn? Shoot the head, jump in a vehicle, or become the hero.

All things considered, SW: Battlefront probably did quite well commercially, making it a success both monetarily and by achieving its stated goals. But it could have done so much better. Depth equals longevity, and nowadays, longevity is lucrative. It's how map packs and expansions are sold. It's how marketplaces involving your game become successful. It's how a community is formed around your game, creating their own content with your game as the subject. It's why companies like Riot invest so much in giving players something to look forward to. Something to strive for.

There's nothing to strive for in Battlefront, and now, when people see an EA shooter, they'd be right to ask these questions. Longevity simply doesn't seem to be a priority.

It probably matters a lot more to my type of gamer, who likes to pick one game, stick with it, and learn everything about it. Really master it. This type of gamer is very careful about where they spend their time, and likes to pick games that will reward mastery. To these gamers, SW: Battlefront is like getting in your swimmers, slapping on sunblock, getting friends together, and heading to the beach only to find out the water only goes ankle-deep.


Comments

    Honestly no idea. I can throw on BATTLEFIELD 2 and play for weeks at a time with mates. We have a friggin' blast. It's a brilliant game. Or the original mod, Desert combat, is wicked fun. But once we hit part 3, the fun goes out of it. I don't know why, it just feels like 'something' is missing. The colour is gone, the fun is gone, the game feels like it's just become part of the EA machination.

    I like to think after BF2 was when EA just started pumping the shite out. Because quite frankly, vanilla BF2 is still outstandingly good and can entertain indefinitely.

      That there is still an active community is a testament to how good DC actually is. I have it installed, and very occasionally run it up.

      I think some of the issue is also hype burnout and frustration. The games just don't match the expectation, and people get over them fast. Casual gamers are often left out too, as the "better" weapons and unlocks are often game changers in the hands of committed hardcore crowd who play for long sessions at the time of launch. If you have your backside handed to you round after round at level 3 by some gold star level 48 veteran, why would you hang around?

        Indeed, though I do think honestly BF2 handled the unlocks very well. Once you got those nice unlocks, you had earnt them. There were a few that were potentially OP, but you always knew someone who had them, was a particularly badass player, not someone who merely sunk money into microtransactions and such lol

        Also, don't forget a complete lack of any mod support whatsoever has halted anything from the consumer side. The gaming community loves to make mods, and we love to fix bugs that the devs continually refuse to acknowledge.

        Vanilla game depth is great, but the REAL longevity of games comes from us, the gamers. You need a good platform to plant the seed of life, but we are the ones who will make it worthwhile in the long run.

        No mod support or access to SDK is like planting a beautiful tree and building a fence around it, then asking the people who come to look at it to take care of it to help it grow and flourish. We can't get past the fence.

    I went into the game expecting it to be a simple fun game but did also expect it to have more depth then it did. Plus with the small amount of PC players and the lack of server browser I'm having an extremely hard time getting on to an Aussie server which is making me not want to play.

    Hopefully some of the DLC they have planned can liven it up a bit. Oh and add a server browser!

      I bought Battlefront on sale for < $50 - I knew after playing the beta that it wouldn't have much in the way of legs. I bought it more as a cool bit of Star Wars merchandise rather than because I expected to get hundreds of hours out of it like a Battlefield game.

      I doubt any amount of DLC will change the fundamentals of it much - they'll churn out some more maps and game modes, tweak weapon balances, etc, but I doubt the core gameplay will get the kind of huge overhaul it'd need to give it Battlefield style longevity.

      And that's fine, I'll jump into it occasionally, run around and look at all the Star Wars sights and listen to all the Star Wars sounds, and then go play something else. I won't be buying any DLC etc for it.

      And yeah, a server browser would be nice. I wonder if they'll add one in later to enable them to charge people money to rent their own servers like in Battlefield? The browser would be nice, but then you find the same situation with BF where the EA / DICE servers get slashed in numbers and replaced by mostly private servers... "Hoth 24/7 MAX TICKETS!" etc.

    Supporting a game after release earns: $0 + DLC spend. (See: Star Wars, CoD Map Packs, BF Premium + maps + unlock purchase)
    Releasing a new game earns: $hojillions. Even if it's not very good. BRAND POWAH! (See: Every fucking annual franchise.)

    It's not hard maths.

    A happy and content gamer is not a spending gamer.

    Last edited 11/01/16 12:01 pm

      Yes and no. MOBAs earn eleventy bajillion dollars every second, and they are mostly F2P, particularly Dota where nothing you spend money on has any impact on the gameplay.

      Even CS:GO - sure, there's a cheap entry fee, but I'd be surprised if that made anything near as much for Valve as the purchasing of crates and keys.

      There's a case to be made for the long-lived game. Sure, you earn less than someone buying an all new game, but the development costs for a DLC are a fraction of the cost of developing a totally new game.

        Well, I assume that's where EA were going with the Battlefront Season Pass, but fell afoul of it simply not coming out before the content-locusts had already done everything there was to do and stopped caring. The +DLC spend is not insignificant, much like the MOBAs you mentioned.

        Why aren't shooters like CoD and BF sticking with the base model and going with a DLC-only route, like MOBAs? That part, I have no idea. Maybe they've been conditioned to love the guarantee of millions of $60US box-price sales every couple years.

          I'm guessing that a bunch of CEO's have their bonuses linked to annual sales targets instead of long-term revenue building.

      For multi-player focused games, one of the biggest things affecting the value to the customer is the other people they can play against. If the player base disappears after a month or two, then the game's value to new customers has taken a massive hit.

      If they only care about the day one purchases, then that might be okay. If they think they can maintain sales over a longer period, then it is definitely in their interest to keep players around.

      Flipside is that adding content to an existing game is a lot easier and cheaper than creating a new game from scratch, and extends the hump of people buying the game. The net income from extending an existing game is relatively risk-free; risk-free is hard to come by in gaming these days. (See: every f****ing annual franchise.)

      A revenue-exclusive focus, ignoring costs, is a good way to go bust. That was a large part of the reason for the Internet bubble bursting in the early 2000s.

      Building DLC also keeps your programmers and artists busy while you're waiting for the next big project to be approved. It winds up being very nearly free money.

    I still love BF4 even now and that's an EA shooter, too. So it's more an issue with these 2 specific games (Battlefront and Titanfall) rather than all EA shooters. And to be fair, Titanfall is about 2 years old now, so it's fair to expect that people will have moved on to other games.

    Rocket League. Shows why the full price multiplayer games dont work. Simple to play, difficult to master, competitve and fun while the action is fast paced its not over in a split second. Cost is a big factor too... you want a multiplayer to be cheap or free to play cause its easier to convince friends to play when you tell them they dont have to spend 60 - 120 dollars on a game.

    Splatoon is the opposite, it looks shallow as hell but the skill ceiling is fairly high and a rank play is goddamned brutal!

    Despite playing a lot of bf3 (and hating the non-sidegrade and painfully slow levelling system), I was bored with 4 almost instantly. It doesn't thrill me any more, yet I'm overjoyed at the recent patching of tribes.

    I am a sucker for shooters with the movement\health\ammo trinity.

      Was going to mention Splatoon. Looks like such a shallow game but man - it's deep and so addictive.

    I remember X-Wing Vs Tie Fighter as an example of one of the first multiplayer only games that was released that was hard to find it's substance.
    The game in this instance was quite absorbing but there felt no need to just go in and do individual missions.
    It wasn't until the Balance of Power expansion pack (DLC in todays terms), that there was reason to play with friends in a story set atmosphere that had a purpose.
    Maybe battlefront doesn't feel like it has a purpose and a (lack of) campaign has actually really hurt it. Star wars has rich story arcs to call on and when you remove them, you have lost what star wars is meant to achieve.
    If battlefront had say a 10 map campaign with multiple branching stories, depending on the ebbs and the flows of the winning side, would that help to push the desire to jump in with friends and work though the campaign together...for the rebellion?
    (disclaimer, I haven't played the game, but that XvT problem was screaming at me when this game was announced last year and the first thought I has was that it might suffer from the same problem)
    there was another article on kotaku about the buy in for a multiplayer only shooter being too high a price for someone to just pick up and join the cause...it might have weight depending on how the other recent multiplayer only shooters are faring (and whether their multiplayer components feel like they have a campaign to them even?).

    Because, generally speaking, the big name FPSs from EA are all sizzle, very little steak. The last shooter from them I think I recall my buddies (and I know that's not indicative of gaming trends) was Bad Company 2. BF4 was released too quickly after BF3, and given the general disappointment from battlefield community after 4 was released, it kinda tarnished the brand. And Titanfall was a great concept, but terribly executed. The thinking that 'breaking up the single players storyline and multiplayer experience pairing is the way of the future' backfired tremendously when the MPE wasn't sustained by the playing community. Also, I think players have AAA shooter fatigue when it comes to titles that are big on style/marketing, but are otherwise just phoned in.

    After a recent investment of $40 for EA Access I installed Titanfall (free) and was happy to see at least 50 people at anytime playing Attrition on Australian servers.

    A shame about the long list of other play modes but I'll take Titanfall over COD or CS any day.

    I'm sure if the uptake of EA Access succeeds then things might get better. They may need to extend it to PC though.

      It'd be good if they had a playlist mode where it would throw you in attrition one match then last Titan standing another and Marked for Death after that etc (gee Marked for Death was great when people were playing it!)

        EDIT- reply fail

        Last edited 11/01/16 1:16 pm

        I have it on PC too as its where I prefer my shooters.... But it is truly dead there.

        If people could get it easily like EA Access I'm sure the numbers would boost.

        It's a pretty well made game.

    I've been spending all my time in siege but the team killing gets to me. Battle fronts annoying features killed it for me and fucking noobs lol

    It might be a shallow game but I'm loving it! It's good fun, the shooting mechanics are solid and it's fun to play. It will get better I think with the DLC that is coming although the season pass is insanely expensive :(

    This is why I really don't buy games that don't have a good offline campaign, online is fun and all, but if people stop playing, you no longer have a game, just a $60 box on the shelf.

      This. Plus if you're happy to stick to single player, you don't have to quit your job and sell your soul to sink enough time into the game to git gud (looking at you, Dota. Please give me my 5,000 hours back. Please.)

    Must be a PC because games are always full whenever I play it in Xbone and although it player count might be smaller I've never had a problem getting a match of Titanfall on the console - try playing a match of counter strike on console - it's bot city!!

    Also Battlefront might not be deep - but it's fun - the way it treats the cool weapons and vehicles like power ups instead of unlocks to grind for is a refreshing change and means someone who buys the game a year from now can have the same great experience as the day one player!

      Then... why would anyone keep playing? Let's say 6 months pass. You have been playing the game, slowly getting your skills up and learning the subtleties of the game.

      Then a new player comes along, gets a freak streak of power ups, and wipes the floor on you repeatedly. All while demonstrating horrible game play skills and ethics.

      Why would you persist through 6 months of that? It's just daft! A flash in the pan is not meant to be a slow pressure cooker. :-S

      Yeah, sure you may get the same power ups... but again, what's the point? I'd just find that gets old and stale, to be honest.

      No, I do not play SWBF. I tried it in EB Expo and realised there was no long term sustainability. :-(

    @junglist I would be interested to know where those numbers are coming from? U.S, Australia, or The World? I'm a Battlefront player but I'm at work, so I can't contribute to the Star Wars numbers lol.

    For other readers, how would one achieve this level of depth? I think being able to easily identify your friends who are in the game with a coloured outline to see where they are on the battlefield would be a start so you could all storm a strong hold, etc.

      In a world of Call of Duty's, Counterstrikes and Battlefields releasing an online shooter without one of the most wanted features being a galactic map/conquest mode and with the (i want to say CEO) coming out and saying they only wanted this to be a purely multiplayer game.

      It sounds like EA found a perfect way to monetize a pop culture phenomenon when a new movie released and didn't anticipate it lasting any longer than that or wanted it to.

      tl;dr - The games longevity is probably as long as EA wanted the game to last. RIP Battlefront; here comes Battlefront 2.

        When you say Galactic Conquest, that's the mode where you play 3-6 maps in a row like in the original battlefront? Or are we talking about like a Planetside 2 type game mode where your win directly affects the entire games meta (eg. your base is secured for your side and is compared to the other two factions?).

          It was a mode in previous BF's where you basically tried to conquer the galaxy. You accrued resources and bonuses and would launch your army at a planet and play the game as a respawning soldier on the ground. It was an average third person shooter but the awesome fun was when you had a few friends taking turns going co-op on it.

      The sources are linked in the article. They are global 24 hour peaks.

      Current SW:BF peak is 11.4k while BF4 peak is 33.3k

    Titanfall, Evolve, Battlefront, Rainbow Six Siege. All games that look fun as hell, I would love to play, but have never picked up because they have no single player campaign. Just sayin.

    People don't want to pick them up for full price because they're determined to be "incomplete" without a campaign (an argument for another day), but by the time the price comes down only the (few) hardcore remain so newcomers are shut out. This makes it inaccessible for a ton of people - particularly those that are interested but don't want to have to be committed. I saw Titanfall for $5 early last year - hell it was free from EA for a while - still didn't want to pick it up, because it was to intimidating.

    Also, maybe EA don't want there to be legs on it. The initial burst is the income. The season pass was the sale. i bet the map packs don't sell well individually. They'll make them and put them out, sure, but they want to sell you another $100 game with an expensive season pass in another year or two, rather than play this for the next 5.

      I would say Siege is the odd one out there, it does have single player missions (they are sort of tutorials to some of the classes, but totally replayable) and also Terrorist Hunt mode which can be solo'd or co-op'd or even multi'd. Both modes give up XP to unlock new operators and attachments so you can play those and still feel like you're getting something out of it other than just shooting dudes.

        Huh, didn't realize the terrorist hunt modes were playable solo. It's cool that there is some stuff in there that might appeal to single players. Might have to keep that on the radar for a while, hope for a sale.

          It's not really a replacement for a single player campaign, but it's still pretty fun.

    I look at it like this; how long do people play most games for? Lets say most of the popular AAA titles take between 20 and 50 hours to finish a regular playthrough.
    Often with games like SW:BF, Titanfall and Evolve the majority of those that buy the games still play them for 20-50 hours, and this might fill between a week and 2 months of play time. After this point, the hype is gone, the freshness is gone and people move on. As the author stated, this is still likely a commercial success for the producer and developer but it doesn't fill the ideals of the gaming community because they compare these games to CS:GO of all things.

    I find it a little more weird the way we've been trained to deal in complete absolutes and never refine the general narrative we construct despite new or alternate information being available. Like, everything about the game here is generalised to the point where we don't accept these sorts of assumptions when they're made by EA or any other company when they try to explain themselves, why do we accept it in our writing and rebuttal? Making massive assumptions as to why the game is less successful based on your own experience is something we REALLY need to get away from. Whatever you feel, it's probably not reflective of the actual content of the game, nor people's reasoning to leave it or simply not purchase it when the entire media dictates the status quo surrounding any one game, idea or perspective.

    I quite like the game, seem to maintain my ratio and have a 50/50 win/loss record but I don't play it all the time. Play it maybe a couple of times a week for fun, like I do Fallout 4 and more recently Xenoblade X. Not sure what more of a role the game needs to have in my life or anyone else's and i'm doubly unsure of what people expected it to be based on everything we saw and played. It's almost establishing an objective perspective over subjective issues is a badge of honour today.

    A friend of mine was trying to get me to buy Sw:Battlefront, I was very hesitant but now i'm glade I didn't. I Fell for the Titanfall hype and everything I read about SW:B said the same. Pity cause I really like Starwars stuff.

      Well you're missing out mate.

      You really like Star Wars stuff, yet you're hesitant to spend $60 on 20/30/40/50+ hours of entertainment? Ok.

      Yep you should definitely get it if you're a fan.

      I'm a huge Star Wars fan and love it to bits. Watched the first trilogy again after playing for a fair bit and the stages are fantastic in detail.

      Worth the money as a Star Wars collectable alone really given I've spent $60 on a lot crappier Star Wars merch.

      Last edited 11/01/16 7:38 pm

      Yeah I played Titanfall for a little while and ended up just doing that last titan standing mode. The running was no fun.

      I also couldn't Evolve. Just didn't do it for me.

      SWBF is quite a bit better. I think it has legs. I would like to see a 40 player one life scenario and more maps for that turning point one. I think it needs more modes/maps.

      But I am really tempted to get BF4 (again, on yet another platform) as I get back into the online competitive stuff. Resisting that urge...

    I think the problem is largely “levelling overload” and people getting over starting again every year.

    Companies realised over the last decade that the Diablo hook of levelling your ass off for hundreds of hours was the easiest way to keep gamers playing.
    The problem now is that similar systems have seeped into just about EVERYTHING from FPS to racers and every mobile game on the planet. It was a huge hit in COD and now too many developers think you can throw a half-assed levelling system into anything and people will keep on playing it.

    The problem is two-fold:
    1/ Developers aren’t putting in the effort to deliver either enough content or to innovate new hooks.
    2/ Like anything addictive people are numb to the joy of aimlessly levelling characters in the same franchises year after year.

    IMO Halo 3 (and maybe 5 I haven’t played it yet) is the best template for making a console FPS that has longevity in 2016.
    -Make a substantial single player campaign to make you care about the game world, themes and learn the systems.
    -Track everything so it feels like every game matters.
    -Add lots of community features.
    -Get rid of f*cking level-capped items that make experienced players even better – it alienates new players, discourages returning players and causes players who DO unlock everything to decide they’ve “finished” and stop playing….. it was a neat gimmick for a couple of years but it’s had its time.

    Last edited 11/01/16 1:17 pm

    I enjoyed it until the majority of players unlocked all the weapons and star cards.
    Bow caster + jump pack + personal shield = top of the ladder. Its basically a case of if you don't use these you lose. As soon as I unlocked this combo I stopped playing.

    CS:GO also offers a real sense of competition with its rankings baked into the game.

    EA games are void of this entirely.

    Its not anything to do with no single player either. Look at Rocket League.

    The future of MP is slick competition systems built in-game, ready-to-go out of the box, that are properly supported well after the release.

      I would give both my legs to have CS:GO on PS4. The ranked system is done so well and while I love it on PC after working on a computer all day I just want to relax on the couch.

      Last edited 12/01/16 3:55 pm

        What ever happened to the PS3 version of that? Got released in the USA but nowhere else as far as I'm aware?

          Oh wow you're right. Came out on the 360 and PS3. Doesn't look like it did too flash on either console. Such a shame.

    I don't think it's an issue with EA shooters as such, just an issue with Titanfall and SW: Battlefront specifically.

    I reached Colonel 100 and played 600 hours of Battlefield 3, despite the fact the unlocks/"motivation" stopped at Colonel 1.

    While I haven't played BF4 in a long while, the fact it still has (as of right now according to bf4stats) over 90,000 players online over two years after release is nothing to sneeze at.

    It's a shame Titanfall died so quickly, as it's probably the one multiplayer FPS I've enjoyed the most in a long time. The pure mechanics were absolutely amazing, the issue was it had little in the way of weapon or Titan variety, so people got bored quickly. I'm really looking forward to what Respawn can do with the sequel.

    As for Battlefront, it lacks weapon and map variety, as well as mechanical depth. This is an issue with this specific game, not EA shooters generally.

    Last edited 11/01/16 1:26 pm

    See.. there's games that have "something" and then there's games that look good.. Star Wars: BF is the latter.. BF2 is the former.. heck even Tribes is the former even in its new incarnation.. I will constantly load up Tribes:Ascend for that "just one more match".. even while I have much better looking AAA titles like Just Cause 3, Metal Gear Solid 5 etc on my machine and taking up valuable SSD space etc.. I'd much rather than a wrestle and tumble with 27 other people in Tribes than play a single player campaign.. however, for games without much to them.. like SW:BF, I'd rather there be a single player campaign..

    The last BF game that I really enjoyed was Bad Company 2.
    BF3 was ok- BF4 was great at the start but when the game became vehicles it killed it for me.
    Wish BF had stuck to the BF2 style gameplay. I might just be getting old- but I don't think thats it.

    The biggest issue I had with BF was how horribly imbalanced everything was. I could use that fun looking assault rifle... but after I die 2 times I'll go back to the Han pistol because it's just better. The worst was the star fighter matches (ironically, the most enjoyable part of the game for me though) since the imperial side was just laughably bad compared to rebels. This, and not being able to see what game modes are actually active is what killed it for me in the end.

    In regards to Titanfall, I think It was incredibly good. It didn't ship with a single player campaign, true, but I don't even remember what happened in the BF4 and COD Ghosts campaigns other than that they were boring. Same for Halo 5 now that I think on it. The only thing with Titanfall that really bugged me was as someone said above, it was just a bit poorly implemented. It was always hard to find games for anything other than attrition, then this was made worse by the addition of totally separate queuing for the new map packs.

    When Titanfall 2 comes out I'm almost certainly getting it, the next Battlefront (or field for that matter), probably a pass on that.

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