Battlefield 4's Rocky Launch "Absolutely" Damaged Player Trust, Producer Says
"I think we have to earn that back," producer David Sirland says.
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Battlefield 4's rocky launch "absolutely" damaged the trust gamers have in developer DICE's ability to release a game smoothly. That's according to DICE LA producer David Sirland, who told me in an interview today that future installments won't suffer the same fate because DICE has changed its processes.
"I can absolutely say that we lost [player] trust in the game's launch and the early parts of the year," Sirland said. "We still probably have a lot of players who won't trust us to deliver a stable launch or a stable game. I don't want to say anything because I want to do. I want them to look at what we're doing and what we are going to do and that would be my answer. I think we have to do things to get them to trust us, not say things to get them to trust us. Show by doing."
For upcoming Battlefield games, Sirland said, "I am certain that [Battlefield 4's troubled launch] won't be repeated because we've changed the way we work." Part of this change is developing games more out in the open and letting gamers play new titles earlier in the development process. Sound familiar? That's the message EA CEO Andrew Wilson has been repeating in seemingly every interview he's given since he was named top executive at the company last year.
"It's just a giant project, any Battlefield game is a giant project," Sirland said. "And the more input you can get early, the better, and the more you can be open with changes you're making or ideas you have, the better, I think. Because our community is much smarter than we probably give them credit for."
EA is already putting this idea to work. The company held a public beta for Battlefield Hardline on PlayStation 4 and PC back in June, and a second beta is coming to all platforms (PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC) later this year. The game was originally pegged to launch in October 2014, but is now scheduled to be released in February 2015. EA delayed the game not because of game-breaking bugs, but rather because players were calling for more innovation, according to Wilson.
The issues Battelfield 4 faced at launch were numerous and significant. Some gamers could not play at all for extended periods of time, and EA was even sued over the bugs. This was somewhat of a "curveball" for EA, Sirland said, in part because the beta went quite well and was very stable.
"We were stoked to release the game and we thought it would be a great launch," he said. "Sure, there would be issues; there's always issues. But we didn't think there would be issues to this degree."
At the close of my talk with Sirland today, I asked if he thought the Battlefield franchise had been damaged at all by Battlefield 4's...memorable...launch.
"I think from a trust perspective, absolutely," he said. "I think we have to earn that back. That's why I'm here. That's my end goal. I want to earn our trust back and I want to make them happy and like Battlefield again."
Check back later for GameSpot's full interview with Sirland, which touches on Battlefield 4's major fall patch, the importance of the game's Community Test Environment, and more on the title's fifth and final DLC expansion, which is appropriately titled Final Stand.