Battlefield: Hardline, the upcoming cops-and-robbers style spinoff of the Battlefield franchise, is releasing later this year in October, almost a year after the buggy Battlefield 4 launch. What does this mean for the franchise? According to EA Studios Executive Vice President Patrick Söderlund, absolutely nothing. “Actually, the idea of a cops and robbers type Battlefield game has been with us – me and the DICE team – for more than ten years.” Söderlund said in an interview with Polygon. “There are early prototypes from, like, 2000 or 2001 of a game that we called back then Urban Combat. This has been lingering and we’ve been wanting to do something like this.”
“It doesn’t necessarily mean that we need to annualize Battlefield and that’s the way it’s going to be forever and ever,” he explained, “I understand that some people may look at it that way but that’s what happened.” The recent trend of publishers to release installments in their franchises annually was started by Activison with its Call of Duty series, which has not missed a yearly release since the original Call of Duty in 2003. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, the latest installment in the franchise, is slated to arrive in the holiday season.
Many other companies have since picked up the trend, including Ubisoft with Assassin’s Creed, which has had yearly releases since 2009’s critically acclaimed Assassin’s Creed II, and Microsoft’s Halo series, which has been launching new titles every year since Halo Wars in 2009. In addition, nearly every major sports game series has been released on a consistent basis to great success, and Travelers’ Tales LEGO series has also had continued success despite their numerous title releases.
But annual releases have had mixed results thus far. This strategy single-handedly brought down the party band games industry, as both Guitar Hero and Rock Band practically flooded their own market into decline, and the Tony Hawk series had a drastic drop in quality year by year as developers rushed to get the game out on time. Both franchises are also owned by Activison.
But Söderlund promises to take a different path. “The EA that I’m trying to help build isn’t an EA that needs to annualize everything,” he said. Battlefield Hardline, which is being released both current and next-gen consoles, is being developed by Visceral Games, the studio behind the stellar Dead Space series, the first time a Battlefield game will not be developed by the series creator DICE, who has its hands full cleaning up the messy Battlefield 4 multiplayer, which was wrought with bugs and seemed rushed and half finished. They are also hard at work at a reboot of the Star Wars Battlefront series, which was teased at E3 and is highly anticipated. Visceral also has a Star Wars game in the works, with former Uncharted writer Amy Hennig penning the story. EA was granted exclusive rights to the Star Wars franchise in 2011.
With so much on their plate, EA hopes to get Battlefield: Hardline out without issue, and to bring the Battlefield franchise back to its clean and polished roots.