The secret of Battlefield's success

DICE chief Karl Magnus Troedsson on 20 years of success as a studio and 10 years of Battlefield games.

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The Battlefield series has gone from strength to strength since it started with Battlefield 1942 in 2002. That success peaked with the most recent game in the series, Battlefield 3, which has sold 15 million copies to date, and surpassed 1.3 million paying subscribers for the Battlefield Premium service. DICE's general manager, Karl Magnus Troedsson, attempted to explain the secret behind the studio's success to the attendees of GDC Europe 2012 today.

"We still run DICE as if it were a separate company--from our financials to our office to our people," claimed Troedsson, emphasising that though owner Electronic Arts uses a lot of its technology such as the Frostbite engine, DICE itself still works independently. He also claimed he's keen for the studio to be known as more than just a one-game outfit.

DICE general manager Karl Magnus Troedsson.

"DICE is dedicated to the fact that we shouldn't just be a Battlefield studio," he said, following a question about other games that may be underway in Sweden. However, he was coy on the details of any upcoming titles. "If you want to see other games from DICE, you will have to wait and see," he said.

The main thrust of the seminar was to explain how the studio uses three metrics to determine success: quality, innovation, and fun. On quality, Troedsson said, "We are very competitive. We always want to win. We always compete with ourselves."

However, this can sometimes have bad results, he claimed, with Battlefield 1942 being "a textbook example of over-scoping," with the team trying to cram too much into the game. He claims DICE needs to focus on the core elements of a game and not try to dress them up. "Don't put diamonds on the coke can," he said, using the soft drink as an example of something that is good enough as it is.

In terms of innovation, Troedsson dismissed the idea that it is impossible to innovate on an established franchise. "People talk about sequilitis--I think that is a cop-out argument for people lost in the debate about what innovation is. If innovation means that there has to be radical change [to be innovative], then I think we're talking about it in the wrong way."

Troedsson pointed to Mirror's Edge, a game where, "We set out to redefine what's possible with first-person movement." He pointed out that from that game the studio took the idea that the player character has legs, and put it into Battlefield 3. He also pointed to the addition of unlockable items and upgrades back in Battlefield 2 was a small innovation on paper, but a major innovation for those players who moved from Battlefield 1942.

The final yardstick for the team at DICE is fun--both for the player and the production team. "The game needs to be fun, but the creative process isn't always fun. Life is too short, [so] work on something you're passionate about. We strongly believe this will show in the product. We also feed off the community. It can be a bit of a harsh relationship, but we do listen."

Troedsson also bemoaned the media's obsession with platforms, stats, and trends. "Why are we so obsessed with the boring parts [of the games industry]?" he asked. "Business models will come and go, and consumer patterns will change. It doesn't matter--if we create great games, it will span all that," he rallied.

"Swedish climate truly inspires game development."

He also emphasised the role that fun plays for both developers and players. "If you have a fun game, it will work. You need other elements as well. But fun is where it starts."

Finally, though Troedsson wouldn't be drawn on specifics in terms of the studio's upcoming projects, he did drop some hints as to what the studio would like to be working on. "We still want to stay in [the shooter] genre, and Battlefield 4 can live in this space and be successful," he said, referring to the recently-announced game.

"That doesn't mean that there might not be a Bad Company game in the future," he teased, but he reiterated that "the core of our games will always be the multiplayer." Troedsson also said that the modding community will have to wait a bit longer before support is offered for future Battlefield games.

"We're afraid of hacking--and I'm no way saying modding is the same thing. It's a huge undertaking to make mod support work, and we are not ready to do that yet."

Discussion

28 comments
BisnessPirate
BisnessPirate

Explains why battlefield isn't as badly fucked over as some of the other titles ea publishes.

hasancakir
hasancakir

"Swedish climate truly inspires game development." that must be true because staying indoors is a wise move for a developer who lives in Sweden :)

emperiox
emperiox

Lol, Battlefield 3 is sooooo mediocre. They released like what...2-3 trailers hyping the campaign and they didn't even finish it? There's no VOIP. The destruction sucks compared to Bad Company 2's destruction. Battlelog is the most retarded thing in the world. Every previous game had a soldier stat's screen + main menu...there was no need for Battlelog as they could have just integrated Battlelog into the menu. Origin is required, lol. Nobody likes Origin. Scope glints for snipers, yeah that kinda defeats the point of sniping. The hit detection is FAIL. I can go on and on with all the things wrong with Battlefield 3...

 

I've said it once and I will say it again, Battlefield 3 is mediocre at best and thus only deserves a 6/10 MAX.

SolidTy
SolidTy

Fun is where it starts, good call.

MW2ismygame
MW2ismygame

BF3 was the worst in the series in my opinion, dont get me wrong its still a decent game, i think i got my moneys worth. but i went in thinking "same great memories of BF2 with the awesome destruction that the badcompany brought" and it was disappointing(to me at least). I will say its the best shooter i have played in the last year and a half. just please DICE, i love battlefield for battlefield, not trying to appeal to the COD audience(no offense to fans of any, but thats why they are different games). please keep that in mind for the next game.  

Kolo32
Kolo32

I would have purchased the last Battlefield game but Origin prevented that.

Matt_Wetner
Matt_Wetner

if BF4 is anything like BF3 i wont get it

gamingfrendly
gamingfrendly

oh please spare me your crap Karl BF3 could of been way better it have a list of problems and annoyances its the hype and the fans loyalty to the brand that sold its copes

parkurtommo
parkurtommo

I'm dismissing any and all of the sh*t DICE says until they announce Mirror's Edge 2, god dammit :x

SadPSPAddict
SadPSPAddict

It certainly is a success and interesting to hear some of the thoughts behind it 

x_hunter00
x_hunter00

Battlefiled's Success Strategy

Past: Making a great game

Present: "We're not Call of Duty"

Liliroots
Liliroots

Mods will sell games.  Look at ArmA2 and its DayZ/ACE mod.  I bought it just for those two.  And the Half-Life series.  Tons of mods.  It spawned the most popular mod that eventually became a franchise - CounterStrike.  Homeworld 2 had a number of mods that made me buy two copies of the game.  Personally, mod support comes before next release of the series.  Even though it depends on what mods come out, one can be sure that the modding community never stops being innovative and delivers great modifications.  Moreover, mods from the BF series are very popular.  The success from BF1942's Modern Combat to BF2's Forgotten Hope and Project Reality, proves that mod-capable games make it more enjoyable, more replay, and more sales.

TheGreyArea
TheGreyArea

I have no shame in admitting that Battlefield 3 has probably been my top gaming experience over the course of just under a year since it's release. I am not so much of a fan of the single player campaign, but that's just my angle on this game. It's obvious that BG3's main success has been it's multiplayer elements. with that in mind, I would consider it so much better value for money / delivering the player's core experience, if DICE were to consider scrapping the single player element of a future game, in order to really pump-up what is made of the co-op and pvp. the budget spent on story, script and voice-actors for a campaign could be put to such great use when aimed at the core multiplayer content. Either that or at least a full campaign co-op. 

hasancakir
hasancakir

P.S. I know this cuz I lived there.

Spartan_418
Spartan_418

 @emperiox lol I bet you think your opinion is the only valid one in the whole world, eh? And perhaps you think the people who like BF3 are going to stop doing something they enjoy, just because you've told them their opinion is wrong?

 

"STOP LIKING WHAT I DON'T LIKE!"

-you

jinzo9988
jinzo9988

 @Whole-Lotta If your measure of success is to be the best in the world/most in the world/top person and nothing else is good enough, then prepare for constant and massive disappointment throughout your life.

SadPSPAddict
SadPSPAddict

 @Whole-Lotta It's a success because of how much money it made the company and how many still play it. Sure other games have done better but is every game other than the best selling game a failure?? I think not!

emperiox
emperiox

 @Spartan_418 No where did I say that my opinion is better than anyone elses...I simply claimed that I disagree with critics.

 

TheGreyArea
TheGreyArea

 @SadPSPAddict  i would definitely agree that the amount of players still active is a sign of a successful release. 

emperiox
emperiox

 @DeusAlex @brownyyy  What brownyyy said. BF3 isn't a bad game, it's just mediocre because of all the little issues. It seems like they toned down all of the mechanics like destruction and completely overlooked some mechanics like VOIP and they left a cliffhanger on the storyline. I'd definately recommend Bad Company 2 over BF3 any day of the week, you'll love the destruction...you can bring down entire buildings with other players inside and get destruction kills which are pretty satisfying. The Bad Company 2 story is really good also in my opinion, the ending is a cliffhanger though, I hope they finish it in Bad Company 3.

 

brownyyy
brownyyy

 @DeusAlex Not as much as I would like a don't get me wrong battlefield 3 is not a bad game but all these little problems add up please do see for yourself games are there to enjoy but its become more about market shares then making a game players love

DeusAlex
DeusAlex

 @brownyyy

 I have to get me a copy of BF:BC2. I want to experience what a lot of the BF vets are talking about and compare myself. In the end I just want to enjoy my gaming time. Is there, still, a strong BC2 community?

brownyyy
brownyyy

@DeusAlex

I agree that games should change for the better but that is not the case DICE have sacrificed gameplay for better visuals and tried to gain new customers at the expense of their old customers, I mean they game was marketed as a COD killer rather than a new battlefield.

I think and this is my opinion based on my experience that battlefield is a game that could have been better but to much time was spent getting it to look nice and less time on all the major bugs and I know all the PC gamers are going to hate this but Graphics mean nothing without solid gameplay and PC games look better yes but cost so much more money.

 

Also all the balancing that has needed to be done why not just give each guns attributes ie (recoil, effective range and fire rate) and just have the damage as it will kill you based on where you get hit like oh I dont know all guns do, and just to hell will all the moners who say oh why do you die so quickly you dont have a chance to return fire gosh I dont know because bullets mostly kill people.

 

PLUS why not true hardcore mode like BC2

 

and yes I do play BC2

DeusAlex
DeusAlex

 @brownyyyGames should change for the better and from the popularity of BF3, It's easy to say that it's succeeded. I really enjoy this game and I've never been into an FPS multi game as much as BF3. And I've been gaming for a long time. Everyone has different tastes. Just play what you like. Just hope the community is big enough and the support is there to keep cheaters out, so you can keep playing that game for a long time. BTW. Do you still play BF:BC2? 

 

brownyyy
brownyyy

 @DeusAlex  I agree with emperiox the sniper glint is stupid and the game is average why would you punish someone for playing the game his way by putting massive glare on the scope why is it ok to be chased around the map by a tank with proximity scanner or a person running in a RPGing the floor but its not ok to snipe like in real life stating that doesnt make him a fan boy you saying the game is perfect when it isnt is a fan boy statement battlefield lost is soul the moment it started advertising it has hundreds of addons for weapons and what not when really most of them are useless ie scopes on shotguns and large scopes for SMGs silencers for light machine gun I could go on

DeusAlex
DeusAlex

 @emperiox

Lol,  is he talking about BF3? The hit detection seems to work fine for me and I hate snipers, so I usually get my revenge with a knife to the chest. Feels so good. He either sucks at it or he's a fanboy of something, but I disagree with you sir.  

EzcapeTheFate
EzcapeTheFate

 @Whole-Lotta Your just an illiterate COD fanboy who saw a BF3 article and wanted to troll. Go grab your potato chips and Mountain Dew and get back to schooling 12 year olds on MW3.