EA Delays Next Battlefield to 2021, Apex Legends Apparently Filling the Gap

By Sam Quirke,
There's no particular rush to get your Battlefield V achievements earned before a sequel arrives — EA has revealed in its Q2 earnings call that there won't be another Battlefield game until 2021, where it will be geared to make the most of Project Scarlett and PS5. Unlike Ubisoft, who squarely blamed a product, EA are pushing this as a good thing for the brand and the company, citing the success of Apex Legends and the deceptively long tail of their back catalogue as good reasons to give developers more time — as well as give consumers more time to upgrade.

Battlefield delay 2021

Ubisoft bucked the usual trend last week by directly taking responsibility for a poor earnings quarter, citing poor performance of Ghost Recon Breakpoint as a key factor. EA were natually more upbeat in their own earnings call last night, having enjoyed a decent quarter thanks to a bunch of recent successes — so Battlefield V, despite a poorer reception than previous games, gets less of a beating in the debrief. In terms of EA's Battlefield plans, Apex Legends' continued decent performance apparently provides a buffer to allow Battlefield V to continue growing and for the next Battlefield to stretch out into next generation hardware.

CEO Andrew Wilson said that Apex Legends' third season has seen a higher number of weekly average player peaks compared to Season Two, and the development team has been expanded. Apex is a "major long-term franchise" and, as corroborated by CFO and COO Blake Jorgensen later in the call. When asked about Battlefield's delay Jorgensen said that the concept of regular or annualised shooters has changed, marking Apex as the current "annualised shooter" — by being a persistent long-term game, there's no need to put other brands onto a factory line. Apex Legends has all sorts of directions to grow in, both in general user retention and also expanding to a global mobile version, as well as expanding to new geographies — China might be a way off at present, but it's being pushed for within the next two years.

An investor on the call suggested that perhaps Battlefield was being reworked into a similar long-term games-as-a-service title like Apex, but both Jorgensen and Wilson denied this, saying that Battlefield won't significantly change.

Wilson believes Battlefield V still has time to grow, with an upcoming Pacific Theater update being highlighted in particular. He also pointed to what Battlefield games are known for — innovating with cutting-edge technology. With that in mind, the company doesn't believe launching a Battlefield game right on top of a new console launch and making the most of the new hardware is the right call — better to wait a year for the install base to increase, so that more players can take advantage of what the Battlefield team manages to deliver with all of that hardware. Wilson reaffirmed that the core Battlefield experience will remain, because that's what players love — so we can still expect the best visuals, tight gameplay and a top-tier mutiplayer experience.

Jorgensen went on to say that investors need to avoid the trap of thinking of brands like Battlefield and Battlefront in the same terms as the admittedly highly successful annual model for EA SPORTS titles. While those games see new investment every year — and a drop off on the back catalogue — Jorgensen claims that Battlefield and Battlefront revenues continue well into their life cycle. He pointed to the fact that Battlefronts 1 and 2 sold 33 million copies, proving that these particular franchises have a "huge tail". With Apex Legends plugging the quarter-to-quarter revenue gap, the Battlefield team have longer to create an experience that will entice players to purchase over a longer period.

Whether Battlefield V manages to have as long a tail as the company's other Frostbite shooters remains to be seen — months of bad press around its launch may have damaged the game's reputation more than other games in EA's back catalogue. But certainly EA's outlook for now is healthy, so they seem less concerned with pushing out sequels. With FIFA, Madden and now Apex comfortably earning the publisher a regular cash flow, the next generation might see the Battlefield team able to really push for a brighter future for the brand.

Source: EA Quarterly Results
Sam Quirke
Written by Sam Quirke
Sam has been a Newshound since 2016 and is now the Editor for both TrueAchievements and TrueTrophies. He loves gaming on all devices and in all genres. He remains a stubborn Assassin's Creed and Pokémon fan.