Openly aggressive EA Games president Frank Gibeau has said that competition between the Battlefield and Call of Duty series is good for the industry, despite the two providing different experiences.
“I can tell you from the top down that we’re going after them, we’re leaving nothing behind. We’re going all out.”
Speaking with the Guardian, Gibeau said that in order to be an effective competitor in the industry, you have to have total commitment to your teams, tech and consumers and go “all out” in order to succeed.
This applies to all competition in the games industry, he said, whether it be sports, or another shooter like the Call of Duty series.
“You’re talking about hundreds of hours of people’s lives, building and working on these things,” he said. “If you don’t have total commitment and passion to the craft and the art of games, you’re not going to be a particularly effective competitor. It’s the same for sport, and it’s the same for business.
“I can tell you from the top down that we’re going after them, we’re leaving nothing behind. We’re going all out. Whether it’s PES vs Fifa or Madden versus 2K Sport, we take these things very seriously – frankly, we enjoy them. We like to compete. It’s good for customers – they get innovation that might not have been there otherwise. They get more buzz, more choice, and it will grow the category.
“The interesting thing about Battlefield versus Modern Warfare is, they’re very differently shaded games, they’re very different experiences; it’s not like buying two football games, where it’s all the same teams. You can buy and enjoy both experiences. We’re proud of what we have in Frostbite – it’s a generation ahead of anything else that’s out there right now. Dice has been together for 10 years, it’s a tight team and they know what works.”
Gibeau is keen on such competition, and feels its good for the “overall category for shooters,” especially considering Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare 3 are different enough to appease both audiences at the same time.
“It’s a situation where it’s not like you can only root for one of two football teams in the Super Bowl,” Gibeau told VentureBeat.
“These are very differentiated experiences so I think fans and players can potentially play both and compare and contrast them this holiday. We are going all out. We are going to leave nothing to chance. We love competing as a company. We have a history of these fights with FIFA, PES and EA Sports. So you know it’s a heavyweight fight. We are the underdog but you know that we are going for it.
“One way to think about it is just like Roger Moore’s James Bond versus Jason Bourne in the spy realm. You can have spectacular, killer, exciting visceral moments. Battlefield has that. But where Battlefield has always come from is its authenticity at depicting big battles. And the technology that we have — the Frostbite 2 engine — allows us to do a lot of things differently like that tank level. You can drive the tank anywhere on the map. It’s a huge open place and it’s not just a rail shooter where you can only go in one direction. You can drive the tank left. You can drive the tank back. You can have a full tank battle that way. We have environmental lighting, lots of really cool weapons effects, and it looks unbelievable. You have that fidelity, that authenticity of feeling like you are in the Paris Metro and there are soldiers approaching you with flash lights on their guns. We really believe that visceral realistic feeling is what sets us apart from them.
“You know it’s a heavyweight fight. We are the underdog but you know that we are going for it.”
“Destruction is another big deal. We haven’t really shown off the full extent of destruction yet, but you can take whole houses down, drive a tank through them. When you place them in the competition’s titles, you will be shooting and you run behind a paper billboard and you will put holes in the paper billboard and the bullets won’t go through the paper billboard. Battlefield allows you to knock the whole billboard over. You may knock down a wall, knock down a door so it opens up different ways of playing the game.”
Gibeau feels that Battlefield 3’s destruction, scale, vehicles and engine gives the game “something very different from what the competition has.”
He added: “If you play the multiplayer, they are very different in terms of team tactics. You can mix and match a guy flying overhead with a helicopter, getting shot at by a tank while somebody else drives a Humvee into the side of the tank with explosives. Or there is a sniper in the building knocking somebody else down with an artillery strike. That literally all happens in one level as opposed to the competitor’s battle where you have ten guys on each side in a small confined space shooting at each other without a lot of those features. So I can go on and on but yes those are the things we think about.”
What worked, what didn’t
While Gibeau seems to know what works and what doesn’t, sometimes even the best laid plans don’t execute: Medal of Honor is one such example.
Last year, the firm said it was going after the shooter crown and the revamped Medal of Honor franchise was going to help it achieve its goal. This pitted the title up against Call of Duty, and while the former did well at market, it didn’t even come close to touching the sales of Black Ops, which became the number one entertainment launch in history.
“We learned that [shooters are] a tough category,” Gibeau admitted to VentureBeat. “We also learned that Medal of Honor did sell well, we were proud of it, but we wished it had done better from a quality standpoint. The key learning was, we wanted to get on to a common technology – the Medal of Honor and Battlefield teams are now operating in the same group together so they can share tools, technologies, innovations, without feeling like the same games.
“Battlefield and Medal of Honor will be part of a rotation that we go after the shooter category with, and this year, with Battlefield 3, I think we have a generational breakthrough in terms of technology. We have a team that’s been together for ten years. The Medal of Honor team was fairly new, they were using middleware and software that had already been out there, so…they’re a great team, and we’re going to continue to invest in them, but we’re going to approach it slightly differently than we did before.”
Battlefield 3 launches on October 25 in the US and October 28 in the UK, while Modern Warfare 3 is out November 8.
Both will be made available on PC, PS3, and Xbox 360.