Electronic Arts has explained why the Battlefield series, unlike Call of Duty, is not released on a yearly basis. Asked by an analyst during the UBS Global Technology Conference this week if Battlefield could be an annualized franchise, CFO Blake Jorgensen laid out the reasons why this would be difficult and potentially problematic.
"The challenges are you’ve got to most likely do it out of two studios because it’s hard, it’s a two-year project," Jorgensen said. "Battlefield takes us about two years to develop and so you want to make sure that you're sharing talent across studios, so you keep core talent of the product and the experience for the consumer there."
Stockholm, Sweden-based DICE develops all core games in the Battlefield series, though the recently established DICE LA also contributes for multiplayer map packs like Second Assault for Battlefield 4. The Call of Duty series, on the other hand, switches every year between Infinity Ward and Treyarch, with assistance from Sledgehammer Games, Raven Software, and NeverSoft Entertainment.
Jorgensen said another issue to consider when annualizing a franchise is making sure every new entry in the series is perceived as substantially different than its predecessor.
"You also want to be really careful that you don’t destroy the franchise along the way. You've got to make it exciting and different, but at the same time you want to make sure you maintain a great franchise," Jorgensen said.
In addition, releasing a new Battlefield game every year would potentially hurt ongoing digital content sales, Jorgensen said
"Battlefield is a product that doesn’t just sell once; it sells for 24 months associated with not just Battlefield, but all the additional Battlefield Premium activities that the consumer wants," he said. "So you’ve got to be careful that you don’t destroy some of that tail that is on the Battlefield product."
All of that said, Jorgensen explained that EA remains interested in looking at ways to grow the Battlefield business, though he did not provide any specifics.