Will Battlefield Ever Be As Successful As It Was With Steam?

Ask any avid Battlefield player about their favorite entry into the series, and, almost without fail, their response will be “Bad Company 2.” DICE knows this too; about a year ago they admitted to not knowing why people liked it so much. With the release of Battlefield Hardline forthcoming, you have to wonder: will there every be a Battlefield game as well-liked as Battlefield Bad Company 2?

An often downplayed correlation is between the success of Bad Company 2 and its being the last Battlefield game to be available through Steam. Battlefield 3 started the age of Origin and the browser-based launching of the popular shooter. In most respects, the series has gone downhill since then. Notwithstanding …

Battlefield 3 Did Sell More Than Bad Company 2

So technically speaking, there has been a game more successful than the last Steam title in the series. The latest numbers on Bad Company 2 sales indicate that the Steam-based entry totaled 12 million sales. By comparison, Battlefield 3 has sold 15 million in the same time frame. But let’s unpack that success.

Battlefield 3 was hyped to no end. Riding the coattails of its predecessor, Battlefield 3 racked up more than 2 million pre-orders. It also sold 5 million units in its first week. Bad Company 2 didn’t sell 5 million units until a month after its release. So there was clearly a difference in how much anticipation each game had.

Battlefield 3 was also the first major entry in the series, being advertised as the first legitimate Call of Duty competitor, garnering Battlefield 3 interest from more than just its niche following. All this aside …

Bad Company 2 Was Better-Received

Better than Battlefield 3 and certainly better than Battlefield 4, Bad Company 2 has a higher rating on Metacritic, and its held in fonder memories by Battlefield fans. Why is that? It’s hard to say exactly. Battlefield 3 introduced the broken suppression system, where if someone was shooting at you, your shots would miss seemingly 100 percent of the time regardless of how accurately you were aiming. But this was just one gameplay element.

See Also: 5 Reasons BF: Hardline Has an Uphill Battle Ahead

And no one is saying Bad Company 2 was without its flaws. Certain weapons were certainly overpowered, from the Abakan-94 to the Carl Gustav all the way to the VSS snipe rifle. But these somehow managed to stick out less.

In an interview with Eurogamer, one DICE boss said “some people say this: the Bad Company 2 multiplayer is the best you’ve ever done. Okay, why is that? It’s hard for people to articulate what that is.” Maybe that’s just because no one is saying the obvious:

PC Gamers Want to Use Steam

I hear the developer’s side of this: Steam charges a percentage fee for use on its client, and it’s quite arguably wrong that Steam has such a monopoly on PC game hosting clients. But while I can see why a developer wouldn’t want to go through Steam, forcing gamers to use a new client is absolutely asinine.

When I bought a new graphics card recently, it came with a free copy of Far Cry 4. Free. They gave the game to me. What’s the catch? In order to play it, I would have had to install Ubisoft’s Uplay client. No. To this day, I haven’t played this some-would-say amazing game, given to me completely free of charge, because it would mean I had to install a new client.

Steam gives people a seamless, easily accessible experience while not cluttering up their desktop with game launchers or a different game hosting client for every publisher out there.

The easy solution here is, instead of forcing something like Origin down PC gamers’ throats, simply give us the .exe. Remember those days? That way, if I wanted to play it through Steam, I could by simply activating a non-Steam game, but I wouldn’t have to, and developers wouldn’t have to pay Steam anything. So maybe DICE can’t figure out why gamers love Bad Company 2 so much, but the answer seems obvious.

Steam gives people a seamless, easily accessible experience while not cluttering up their desktop with game launchers or a different game hosting client for every publisher out there. Even if Battlefield Hardline could convince me to use Origin …

Browser-Based Server Finding is Stupid

Plain and simple. If someone at DICE can explain to me what was so bad about launching a Battlefield game, finding servers within the game and joining them right then and there, I will eat my hat, because whoever sat in the Battlefield think tank and said “why don’t we have gamers connect to a server list in their internet browser, launch the game after a server is found, close the game if the player gets disconnected and re-open it once another server is found,” could not have been sufficiently sober.

*end long-winded digression*

Really, this browser-based nonsense may perfectly encapsulate the problem with Battlefield not being on Steam:

Not Using Steam Needlessly Complicates Things

Steam is easy. You launch the program, click on the game, click play. Done. PC gamers know it and love it. Without it, you have to launch another program, when the rest of the games you play are on Steam, hit play on Battlefield 3 or 4 or Hardline, then wait for your browser to open, then click the server you want, then the game launches.

This isn’t a choice between Origin and Steam; that’s a false dichotomy. They could make it available on both programs, could just provide the .exe for people who don’t want to use Origin. If EA, DICE or Battlefield ever want the full support of PC Gamers, they’re going to have to explore some of those option.

In the mean time, maybe I’ll get around to playing Far Cry 4. But then again, probably not.