The next generation of home video game consoles still lie in their infancy, and for the second straight time since the battles of Activision and EA have begun, EA is losing the war on game sales.
Let’s get a few things straight from the last generation. First, Call of Duty was hands-down the best selling franchise of the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 run. Secondly, Battlefield 4 had the most critically successful run against the Call of Duty franchise the series has seen in some time on the home consoles – despite being a severely damaged title at launch. People were, and are ready to move on from the clutches of Call of Duty, especially after a washed out and recycled campaign had Ghosts left for dead. Call of Duty remains a powerhouse which is dominated only by the idea that your friends have been playing it, and therefore you should be. That ideal is changing as the next-gen is kicking into gear, and with the transition to the PlayStation brand from the Xbox focused mindset of the last generation.
At the Electronic Entertainment Expo, two independent thought processes brought two competing developers to construct a cops-and-robbers first person shooter. Both Electronic Arts, in Battlefield Hardline, and Ubisoft’s creation of Rainbow Six: Siege. While the Battlefield franchise is more poised to pick up the reigns of Call of Duty’s faltering sales, EA seems to have taken a second look at the same engine, same physics, and persistent flow from the confidence-killing Battlefield 4 title. Battlefield Hardline has taken two major faults in releasing as a direct successor to Battlefield 4 – Hardline doesn’t FEEL different from Battlefield 4, and according to IGN.com, Battlefield Hardline doesn’t feel BETTER than Rainbow Six: Siege. If you aren’t the better cops-and-robbers title, and you’re not an all-new first person shooter, why would the consumers follow you into the next generation of consoles?
Activision plans to play a completely different game in the third round of the FPS generation, and ignoring the idea that Call of Duty may well pull its own dead weight for years to come, they have their ace in the hole. After the transition of Halo to 343 Studios, series creator Bungie had a good thing going for it, and loads of development power to work with on their next shooter, Destiny. Given Activision’s great holding power with their ridiculous profits on the Call of Duty series, picking up the free agent Bungie and their project Destiny meant that they may just have an ace in the hole during the transition from one leading series to the next.
Destiny is being built on a half-billion dollar budget with one of the most meticulous groups of developers in the history of gaming – so meticulous in fact that we found nearly nothing wrong with Destiny’s ALPHA build a few weeks ago. Given their strengths in the FPS backdrop behind them, and Activision’s ability to grab MMO knowledge from the World of Warcraft teams at Blizzard Entertainment, it’s no wonder why we might feel that EA is losing on ground it hasn’t yet gained.
To say that Electronic Arts is down and out would certainly not be the case. They are attempting to make strides in the PC space with their recent changes to the Origin service, as well as their all-new Sims 4 title, with tens of expansions sure to come. EA breaks through in the mobile space, and their success in the casual is nearly unmatched. EA needs to find a way to break through in the blockbuster space, however. Without big gains in quality control, a new series, or a dramatic fight back in their racing franchises, they may soon be only coasting by on sports title sales for yet another generation.