Electronic Arts hosted a financial earnings call for its full fiscal year 2017 results and gave a little bit of a look ahead into what the mega-publisher’s plans are. This includes BioWare’s new game franchise along with further signs that the traditional DLC pack model with the Season Pass is going the way of the dodo.
BioWare first announced it was working on an all new original game property during Electronic Art’s E3 2014 press conference. The game is being developed by the BioWare Edmonton studio and is expected to be at this year’s E3 event in June.
The unannounced title was expected to launch in Electronic Arts’ 2018 fiscal year, which would end on March 31, 2018. That’s officially been pushed back, but the reason isn’t exactly all bad.
“We are very pleased with the progress of our new action IP from BioWare,” EA Chief Executive Officer Andrew Wilson said during the call as transcribed by Seeking Alpha. “The Design is stunning. Gameplay mechanics are excellent, and the action will be exhilarating.
“The game is built around a live service, and through our creative process, we decided to add more to the disruptive new social design for our players,” Wilson continued. “To accommodate that, we are moving the launch date for this project into fiscal year 2019.”
Later in the call, Wilson clarified that the launch issues with Mass Effect: Andromeda and the delay of the new IP are completely unrelated. Which makes sense given Andromeda was developed by BioWare Montreal and the new IP is being handled by the Edmonton studio.
“We recognize that there was so much more opportunity in a connected network social world to do some things in the new BioWare game that had never done before and we don’t think anyone is going to do anytime soon,” Wilson added during the call’s Q&A session. “But by virtue of our network, our cross-platform presence and our scale, we think we can do that. And we chose to give the team some more time to deliver against that innovation because we believe players are looking for the kinds of things that we plan to put into that game.”
For those that don’t know, a “live service” combined with a “connected network social world” would be similar to games like Destiny and The Division. These games are essentially always online with players meeting in social and play areas. They are also constantly updated with content, events, and other items beyond DLC. They aren’t quite Massively Multiplayer Online worlds like World of Warcraft, but there are similarities.
This would be Electronic Arts’ first foray into the genre and an attempt to keep up with other two mega-publishers – Activision and Ubisoft. A release by March 2019 would also firmly put the game in a timeframe where the Destiny 2 would be dying down.
Another interesting topic brought up during the Electronic Arts financial call regarded DLC Season Passes. Games like the Battlefield series and Star Wars: Battlefront have depended on the concept of four DLC packs. The industry as a whole is steadily moving towards a free DLC option with loot box microtransactions a la Overwatch and Halo 5: Guardians.
It’s not clear if Electronic Art is completely abandoning DLC and Season Passes, but Chief Financial Officer Blake Jorgensen makes it clear the publisher is moving that direction.
“You’ll see some changes to our approach, particularly with Battlefield and Battlefront over time that makes those DLC less important because it’s ongoing content that’s being delivered. I will say, you’ll also see a lot of content delivered to the broad community for Battlefield, not just for the DLC owners going forward, which I think will continue to make those numbers a little less meaningful,” Jorgensen explained.
Battlefield 1 owners shouldn’t expect major changes since the Season Pass has already been established with that title. However, it appears the shift will start with Star Wars: Battlefront 2 this fall.
[Featured Image by Electronic Arts]