5 Reasons Battlefield: Hardline Has an Uphill Battle Ahead

We’re at the end of the year, and naturally I’ve found myself looking at what video game releases await us in 2015. One game that stands out is Battlefield: Hardline, one of several releases that were originally designated for 2014 but wouldn’t finish development in time. Now, it joins the roster of 2015 with its elite game releases and all.

Related: Battlefield: Hardline Box Art Causes Controversy

Battlefield: Hardline is a game has a lot more adversity to overcome than its comrades. That’s not the say that it won’t be successful, but its road to success is one that’ll be difficult to navigate. Below are five reasons why.


Remind Me, Why Isn’t This an Expansion?

Playing Battlefield: Hardline at E3 2014, I couldn’t help but feel as if I was playing Battlefield 4 with a few new game modes. Everything from the UI to the minute-by-minute gameplay experience wasn’t just similar to 2013’s Battlefield release, it was virtually identical. I wasn’t the only person to notice this.

After several weeks of running a beta in June, EA announced that Battlefield: Hardline was delayed to “early 2015”. Beta feedback was mixed and included complaints about the game feeling more like an expansion than a standalone title. EA knew it couldn’t afford to mess up with its release, so it took drastic measures delayed the title, something it rarely does.

Beta feedback was mixed and included complaints about the game feeling more like an expansion than a standalone title.

I know this has been brought up countless times, but it’s December and I still haven’t seen any demonstration of why the game should be a full retail title priced at $59.99. It’s releasing in three months, and that’s not a whole lot of time in game development. There’s a chance we’ll see it re-emerge with meaningful improvements, but there’s nothing I’ve seen that instills confidence in the product. That’s never a good thing this close to launch.


Growing Distrust of Police

Following several major recent events, many Americans are less supportive of police than ever before. Whether or not that’s founded is up to debate, but what isn’t debatable is how big of a deal it is. Thousands of Americans have protested their distrust of police, and desire change.

This poses a problem for Battlefield: Hardline, a game that is thematically based around militarized police looking to shoot to kill. It’s a good thing it didn’t launch this season, or media would have entered hunting season.

On top of this, Battlefield: Hardline is based on the American war on drugs, with its tagline being “Be the law, break the law”. Its single-player component places the protagonist in Miami where he is in-charge of getting drugs off the streets. While that may sound fine and dandy to some, there’s an emergence of those who oppose the drug war in America. That doesn’t do Battlefield: Hardline any favors.

Similar ill-timing brought financial despair to a Japanese development team who was working on a title known as Zettai Zetsumei Toshi 4: Summer Memories. In the game your task was to escape a Japanese city in ruin. It turns out that a day after delaying its release the 2011 Tohoku tsunami devastated Japan. Releasing a game that would awaken the horrors of the tragedy isn’t something the development team wanted to pursue, so the title was cancelled. If it did release, it would have likely fared very poorly.

Let me be clear, I know that Battlefield: Hardline doesn’t pit police officers against unarmed civilians, but it does represent militarization of police and the war on drugs. That makes it particular challenging to market in 2015 America.


March 17th Isn’t Exactly the Best Release Date

Battlefield: Hardline is planned to be release on March 17th, a date it shares with Final Fantasy Type-0 HD and Project CARS. Both of these games are highlights of Q1 2015, making for some healthy competition in March.

To make things more challenging, Bloodborne debuts on PS4 just a week later. Yes, it isn’t a mainstream game, but in my opinion it’s one of the three biggest releases of 2015. So, as Battlefield: Hardline is just getting started, it’ll have to win over the attention of gamers who may just be distracted by Bloodborne hysteria.

So, as Battlefield: Hardline is just getting started, it’ll have to win over the attention of gamers who may just be distracted by Bloodborne hysteria.

Battlefield: Hardline will have to combat all three of these games, and that’s not going to be easy.


2014 Broke Confidence in Pre-Ordering

In the past a huge chunk of Battlefield sales have come from pre-orders and day one purchases—this can be said for most AAA games. This is problematic for Battlefield: Hardline, which will arrive just a few months after several titles that have made gamers uneasy to pre-order; games such as Assassin’s Creed Unity, Driveclub, and Halo: The Master Chief Collection.

A game doesn’t require record pre-orders to sell millions, but it’s tremendously important. As such, Battlefield: Hardline can’t get by on pre-release hype and marketing alone. It will require to strong debut and must make a good first impression to encourage positive word of mouth.


Winning Back Fans

With all these points noted, it’s important to understand that at the moment many gamers, including myself, are hesitant to go out and buy a Battlefield game at launch. Battlefield 4‘s launch was one of the worst in recent memory, littered with server crashes, gamebreaking bugs, and more. Made worse, its problems persisted for more than six months after launch.

Battlefield: Hardline will be the first Battlefield release since that time. Consequently, it is tasked with winning back fans, which is never an easy thing to do.

At the end of the day, Battlefield: Hardline is a game from an elite franchise with an enormous budget. As a Battlefield fan, I hope that it’s able to rise to the challenge.