Electronic Arts chief creative officer Rich Hilleman has spoken out to defend the rocky launch of Battlefield 4. In an interview with RockPaperShotgun, Hilleman acknowledged that the game faced numerous and at times serious bugs, but said the game overall was a great success.
"I'm not sure I accept your premise," Hilleman said after the interviewer asked about the embattled launches of Battlefield 4 and SimCity and whether or not EA would overhaul how it approaches launching games in the future. "Battlefield 4 has been an exceedingly successful product on both consoles and PC," Hilleman said. "From a sales perspective, from a gameplay perspective."
Battlefield 4's woes impacted many players and Hilleman pledged that EA would learn from the experience. Still, he said EA remains in an enviable position because even after the many negative headlines and drop in stock price, Battlefield remains a massive, genre-leading game.
"I think there was a lot of noise about the game, but some of that is a function of your surface area. The more customers you have, the more noise becomes available," Hilleman said. "We did things wrong. We know that. We’re gonna fix those things. We’re gonna try to be smart about what customers want in the future."
By and large, the players who did buy Battlefield 4--including those who experienced server hiccups and other technical problems--don't regret their purchase, Hilleman said.
"But I’m not willing to accept--and I don’t think most of my customers are willing to say--'it’s a bad product, I wish I didn’t buy it.' That’s not the conversation we’re having now," he said. "I think what we’re hearing is, 'You made a game we really liked. We would’ve liked it a little better if it didn’t have these problems.' Many of those problems we can fix, and we have and will."
Hilleman brushed aside a question about Battlefield 4 not being tested before release, saying more than 10,000 people beta tested it. However, he admitted that many of the issues came from the Xbox One and PS4 versions of the game, and "beta testing on an unreleased system is difficult."
Looking ahead to Battlefield 5, Hilleman said development processes change with every new installment, and this is no different for the new game.
"If you were to take a look at the process behind a gen three launch and a gen four launch, it’s 80 percent different," he said. "So the next major number release for Battlefield will likely have an 80 percent process change, because time has passed. So that’s why I talk about changing for the future, not changing for mistakes we made last time. If I reproduce what I did this time, it’s guaranteed to be 80 percent wrong anyway."
The Battlefield 4 launch issues led to the commencement of a class-action lawsuit against EA. However, that case may never become a reality, as it is still without a lead plaintiff with just four days to go.