I hate to be an "I told you so" but oh well....
Battlefield 4 has officially launched with all the fanfare of say, SimCity !
Well at least if you cast it in the light of other members of the club like Diablo 3, GTA 5 and World of Warcraft. Apparently if you were one of the lucky 4 million or so who expected October 29th to be the first day of a very long gaming weekend there was a good chance that you were disappointed. An issue with region locking forced many players to have to wait 24 hours (October 30) because of a clock bug in EA's authentication mechanisms. The bug somehow misreads the time on some ISP servers making their subscribers appear they were coming from Europe where the game is not scheduled for release until November 1st.
According to Scott Michaud of PC Perspective, when he contacted EA about the issue they were very polite but had no intention of doing anything about it. EA has been relying heavily on their Origin distribution client and it appears the issue stems from its DRM mechanisms.
If you sell software it stands to reason that you have to protect your revenue stream somehow. However, when that protection stands in the way of your paying customers you're going to need to do more than just comfort them on the support lines.
Maybe consumers are finally getting weary of the false promise of "The Pre-Order."
As recently as a week ago pre-order sales numbers were down compared to Battlefield 3 while the competition (Call of Duty:Ghosts) were on par with their predecessor. EA's only recent comment came from a conference call where all they could say is that "pre-orders are stacking up well against BF3"
"Stacking up Well" is not "beating", "exceeding" or "surpassing." It's like a weather forecast that's only "Fair," which is pretty much the middle of the road.
With such a popular franchise with a year's worth of hype leading up to the release how can BF4 possibly be just an "also ran?"
Maybe it was a largely flawed beta that excluded players with 32 bit platforms even though the final game supports both 32 and 64 bit. Hey, it's a beta and its bound to have problems but with mostly empty servers the 10 to 20 minute process just to connect didn't bode well.
Perhaps it was "Pre-Order" fatigue. Even as early as last Fall EA was offering early Beta access to BF4 with the purchase of the now infamously failed "Medal of Honor: Warfighter." The spring and summer found relentless promotion sinking as low offering up a set of "Mechanix" gloves for your "memories" of BF3.
Maybe it was the bait and switch of what looked like gameplay videos that turned out to be nothing more than cutscenes. The actual game looks only marginally better than its predecessor even with settings turned up.
Maybe it's a matter of people getting tired of the franchise and the relentless money machine EA has turned it into. DLC, upgrade kits, premium subscriptions designed to enhance the game only seem to alienate those who actually play it. Players have dumped millions into Battlefield 3 hoping to get more but more often than not get less than they paid for. Ask anyone who bought BF3 DLC outside of the "Premium" subscription how they felt when they couldn't find a server or when they did were blocked by "Premium Members Only."
Perhaps it stems from the simple fact that Battlefield 4 looks largely like a rehash of Battlefield 3. Even the storyline is largely unchanged save the addition of the Chinese as an additional antagonist. We're still forced into a clumsy web interface to launch the game. Still have to be in an active game just to configure basic settings and EA's only response was to set up dead servers so you can complete your settings without getting booted off an active server.
That's not a fix, that's a band-aid and for many it may be just one annoyance too far. Don't get me wrong, Battlefield 4 looks like a fun game but it's not the leap we expected in a sequel. Battlefield Bad Company 2 was the last major release in the franchise before Battlefield 3 launched. Battlefield 3 was noticeably better (even with Battlelog). Battlefield 4 isn't the giant leap we were expecting. It's more like Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 which looked exactly like its predecessor Modern Warfare 2 even down to the scripted gameplay in co-op missions.
BF4 is looking like it's going down the same road. Perhaps only a spin-off along the lines of Call of Duty's Black Ops can truly energize the franchise. Bad Company 3 anyone?
No matter, so long as they keep trying to milk the same cash cow I'll always be skeptical.
Fool me once EA, that's all you get.
Fool me once EA, that's all you get.