CEO Andrew Wilson confirmed during an earnings call that the shooter “did not meet expectations.” Wilson attempted to explain the situation by telling investors, “developing [Battlefield 2042] with our teams working from home for nearly two years ultimately proved to be challenging,” also noting that “some of the design choices we made with the game did not resonate with everyone in our community.”
Battlefield 2042’s disappointing performance comes as little surprise. The game enjoyed significant interest prior to launch, but a rough beta and disappointing performance at launch lead to plenty of players deciding to stay away.
There’s no denying the game had serious potential but the finished product failed to capitalize on that. In our review, we said: “Battlefield 2042 occasionally captures the epic scale and multiplayer madness the series is known for. But the game often stumbles due to poor design decisions and technical issues.”
Battlefield 2042 was also widely criticized for a lack of content. The game launched with seven maps, less than its predecessors Battlefield 5 and Battlefield 1 at launch. Unlike previous games in the series, 2042 didn’t offer a single-player campaign either. As alluded to by Wilson, the new Specialists system, which replaced the traditional Battlefield classes, has also been fairly unpopular with long-time players.
EA isn’t finished with Battlefield 2042 yet
Despite these issues, EA isn’t ready to throw in the towel just yet. During the earnings call, Wilson said, “I believe that we’re going to see this game do really well over the course of time” and confirmed the publisher was “fully committed to realizing the full potential of this game.”
This comes in the wake of the game's developer Dice delaying Battlefield 2042's first season of new content into a fairly nebulous summer 2022 release window. It had been originally planned for early Spring, but Dice is opting instead to focus on implementing gameplay fixes and player feedback first. The game's next significant update is due in March.
Today we’re sharing the latest #Battlefield 2042 details, our new player feedback loop, and a status update for Season One. Learn full details: https://t.co/6y8368gebO pic.twitter.com/WrueRz2ICmFebruary 1, 2022
When Battlefield 2042 Season One does launch it will add new a Specialist, a new location (which means at least one new map) as well as additional content (likely new weapons, vehicles and cosmetics). The game’s biggest rival Call of Duty Vanguard is already midway through its first season and by the summer will likely be moving into its third.
Battlefield 2042 Season One is the first of four significant content drops that will be doled out over a period of 12 months. This means that Dice will be actively supporting Battlefield 2042 through summer 2023. Hopefully, by then the game is in a slightly more acceptable state with a more enthused player base. If that’s not the case, EA’s commitment to the game will almost certainly start to waver.
Analysis: It’s time to move on from Battlefield 2042
While EA and Dice deserve credit for making a firm commitment to fixing at least some of the many issues players have with Battlefield 2042, I can’t help but feel it's already time to move on.
You can count the number of games that have managed to salvage a tarnished reputation after a disastrous launch on just one hand, and currently, Battlefield 2042 is showing no signs of joining that very small list. The game is two and a half months out from release and the fixes so far have been minimal.
Dice is promising more substantial improvements and player-requested features are coming, but these fixes aren't expected until at least March. Reports of the game’s player base dramatically shrinking began circulating in early January. By next month we might be reaching the point where even getting enough active players together for a 128-player match proves tough.
It shouldn’t be glossed over that many of the game’s biggest problems aren’t of a technical nature or related to its lack of content. The controversial Specialists system is hard-baked into the game’s design. It’s likely impossible to remove without reworking the entire game. Not to mention the problems with the core shooting mechanics will probably require a full re-design to fix as well.
Dice likely can't make these changes without essentially ripping up the game’s foundations and starting from scratch. Instead, it looks like EA will allow Dice to throw good money after bad, wasting time and development resources adding new content to a game that is already suffering from a serious shortage of players.
Last month there was also talk of Battlefield 2042 going free-to-play, which could at least give its player count a healthy boot, but I feel that would be a desperation play. It would also anger the many Battlefield fans who purchased the game for $70 on PS5 and Xbox Series X.
I regularly ranked Battlefield 2042 as one of my most anticipated games of last year, I’d love to see it achieve an unlikely redemption arc. Unfortunately, I just can’t see that happening in its current state. Battlefield 2042 has been a disaster from day one, maybe it’s better to just let it die at this point.