Things aren’t going so well for Battlefield V, apparently. Or are they? According to certain analysts who make their living looking into and digesting retail numbers, EA’s Battlefield V is struggling in terms of preorder numbers. According to the data, it is doing worse numbers than both Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 and Red Dead Redemption 2, which it is sandwiched in-between. Additionally, sources that spoke to outlets like VentureBeat have said the game is not doing well in terms of EA’s own internal projections as well. So what’s the deal? Is EA somehow bungling the whole deal with Battlefield V? Is the game a failure before it even opens the gate? No, not exactly.
In a reaction to the recent rumblings, VentureBeat published a story clarifying the matter, and adding greater context. Yes, it’s true that Battlefield V isn’t doing the numbers EA wanted it to, and it isn’t doing the numbers last year’s game did, which were great. It’s also beneath the competition’s. Some have accused EA of sending the game out to die, similarly to the situation with Titanfall 2. But VentureBeat reminds us that the game is doing much, much better compared to Titanfall 2, so the game is far from a flop. It just isn’t doing amazing. It’s also worth noting that Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is also underperforming, and the other game is Red Dead Redemption 2.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is the one game in October that is considered an early success via preorders right now. Between that game’s expected massiveness and the ever-present specter that is Fortnite, there isn’t a ton of room for other games to do gangbuster sales. Let’s not forget that earlier this year, reports from places like SuperData were concerned that Fortnite is “cannibalizing” video game business from the bigger, AAA stuff. While that’s still an ongoing debate, it’s worth thinking about here. Of course, we can talk a bit about what’s not a factor as well.
It didn’t take too long after this news got out to see things like YouTube thumbnails suggesting Battlefield V has dropped a bit because of “social justice,” a certain sect of the internet’s favorite boogeyman. As we all know, “controversy” struck when Battlefield V’s early marketing prominently featured women in various roles, something armchair historians (completely incorrectly) took issue with. This caused some online spats, but DICE ultimately doubled down, and even suggested women weren’t included in previous Battlefield games early enough. Remember, Battlefield V is merely underperforming expectations fueled by an exceptional previous year, and is far from bombing. Millions of people will still buy this game.
Anyway, back to reality. Besides Fortnite and Red Dead taking up real estate, another factor could be the subject matter. Call of Duty just did the World War II thing last year, and the reason Battlefield 1 did so well was because the game was set in World War 1, relatively uncharted territory in video games. More than ever, big games need to stand out to do well. Activision found an opportunity to go back to World War II after a long absence, but the same thing from another company within a year won’t make as much of an impact.
VentureBeat’s story also states that EA has a contingency plan for this situation. Perhaps EA knew that Battlefield V would be more of an uphill battle. But the plan is to drop a lot of major content for the game post-launch, and to keep supporting it more so than in years past. A big part of this is the Battle Royale mode, which was started with releasing it later in mind. There will be the regular map and equipment additions of course, and something else that even VentureBeat’s sources opted to maintain secrecy about.
So no, Battlefield V is not in trouble, per se. The “SJWs” didn’t ruin it, and despite lower than expected preorder numbers, it isn’t a Titanfall 2-style flop. There could be some missteps on EA’s part, including release timing and the setting choice, but some of the context is external as well. It cannot be understated how much of a factor this year Fortnite and Red Dead Redemption 2 are, and how plenty of other games will struggle in their wake as well. And have already, for that matter. Ultimately if you’re invested in this sort of thing, whether or not the latest AAA game is successful, don’t fret. Battlefield V may not be a smash hit right away, but the series isn’t in any real danger.