Why the Gaming Industry Needs Battlefield 1
The first-person shooter is an undeniable powerhouse in the gaming industry. In its lifetime, the Call of Duty franchise alone has sold over 231 million copies. The popularity of the competitive MLG scene (and the countless memes that came from it) also help show the influence of the FPS on the industry.
However, the FPS has been declining in popularity. To this day, the best-selling Call of Duty game is Black Ops, which was released way back in 2011. The most recent addition to the series, Advanced Warfare, is only the 7th best selling game.
This chart, which I created based off of data found on Google Trends, shows how often people have searched the term “FPS” into Google from September 2011 to September 2016. The red line represents the exact number of searches, while the black line represents the average change from 2011 to 2016. It’s also important to note that one of the most popular times for searching “FPS” was when Black Ops, the best selling COD game, was released. After looking at this, it’s clear that people are generally losing interest in all FPS games.
One can’t help but ask: why? The answer could be that people are tired of playing the same thing over and over again. We all got bored of the formulaic first-person shooter. In order for a gamer to go out and spend $60 on a video game, they need to feel like it will be a good investment; they need to feel like they will experience something new that they haven’t already seen. This isn’t a trend only unique to the FPS; websites like VGChartz reveal that games like Assassin’s Creed have also been declining in sales. This is all for the same reason; people feel like these repetitive franchises aren’t worth their investment.
Battlefield 1 is important exactly for this reason. It serves as an example to game developers that breaking the formulaic mold for a game and branching their franchise out into a different style can make people be interested in buying their product. We’ve seen the semi-futuristic shooter before: it’s old news. The last triple-A WWI/WW2 FPS game to reach massive success was World at War, which was released 8 years ago. Battlefield 1 truly feels like a breath of fresh air to a gaming community that hasn’t seen any creative change in a long time.
This can, of course, be done incorrectly as well (we’re looking at you, Infinite Warfare). But where did Infinite Warfare go wrong? Infinite Warfare didn’t do what Battlefield 1 did to peak interest in the franchise. Battlefield 1 is adding a fresh twist without changing the core mechanics that define Battlefield, while Call of Duty Infinite Warfare is changing the essence of the game to make it something it’s not by adding ship combat and robots. Either way, looking at the interest and reactions to these two upcoming games shows us that there is a right and wrong way to change up an existing franchise.
If Battlefield 1 wasn’t successful then none of this would matter. Why would game developers explore outside of the proven and successful FPS formula if it didn’t benefit them to do so? But Battlefield 1 isn’t even out yet and it’s been wildly successful. The Battlefield 1 open beta brought in over 13 million players, which is even more than Overwatch’s did. This should serve as a wake-up call to the industry that if developers can think of an interesting and fresh way to add variety to their franchise then they will be rewarded with very successful sales.
In other words, Battlefield 1 sets the example that big development companies need to take a risk to create something new rather than using a proven formula in order to maintain the interest of their audience.
What do you think? Should developers actively try to change their franchises? How much is too much? Leave your comments below and don’t forget to share the article to keep the discussion going!