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Battlefield 2042 – it must go free to survive

Hey guys this is undercoverdudes, and this game must go free to play. Battlefield 2042 is undoubtedly a failure of a game, just a couple of months after release and the game is barely hitting 3,000 concurrent players on Steam, and I’m sure the console versions aren’t doing very well too.

Now we all know the core reasons for Battlefield 2042’s downfall, the shoehorned in specialists, the empty battlefields, the technical bugs, EA ignoring the community etc etc and these have been covered in great detail, but today I want to focus on a different angle, the 5 factors 

Late last month a journalist broke a story that EA is reportedly very disappointed with how Battlefield 2042 has performed, shock horror I know, and is “looking at all the options” when it comes to the title, including free to play. Everybody hopped on the train that this is exactly how 2042 will gain its player base back, however a free to play transition is not as simple as it seems, and we can look back in time to see exactly why.

In the past many game developers have turned originally paid games free to play and been successful, notably Team Fortress 2, Counter Strike Global Offensive and Starcraft 2. However, there have been many more examples of games that went free to play and completely died such as Battleborn, Evolve and Lawbreakers. 

The difference between these two groups is simple, the winners are fan favorites that have been around for years and have incredibly healthy playerbases, and the losers are games that had a mediocre to negative initial reception and tried to go free to play as a desperate last ditch attempt.

Look at CSGO, its one of the best shooters of all time, it was initially released in august 2012 and went free to play in december 2018, and even for such a loved game the free to play launch was rocky. In the end it paid off massively, but there were many months where people were quite angry, especially due to hackers. Then look at Battleborn, despite being an okay game it had its issues, but more importantly it was released into a super saturated market and there was just more fun games to play like Overwatch. After only a year the game was practically dead, they tried a free to play release that temporarily revived it but only two months later the game had less players then when it was paid.

What I’m trying to say here is that free to play only works out of a place of strength, regardless if a game is quote unquote good or not, people actually need to like the game and want to play it for free to play to succeed. In the case of 2042, while it is fun at times its also a very hated game and for good reason, it goes against everything that the legendary Battlefield series has stood for. Iinfact its one of the most downvoted games in steam history, and while a free to play release may boost the playerbase temporarily why would anyone long term want to play a game that is just not fun, but also a game where it’s own core community absolutely hates it.

In the past you could have made the argument I guess of, oh its a triple A game going free to play thats so much effort and quality that is now available for everyone. Now yes that might have worked in 2015 when the free to play FPS scene was just pay to win korean lootbox shooters, but now we have so many quality shooters that are completely free, Destiny 2, Apex Legends, CS:GO, Warzone, Valorant, why the hell would you choose a broken mess like 2042 over these games..

So what does DICE and EA have to do? Well the answer is not free to play, not right now at least, the game crazily enough needs to be drastically changed and fixed. The game has good qualities, it is a Battlefield title after all, the good just needs to be uncovered and brought to the limelight. How to do that is not for me to say, I haven’t got the in-depth experience to suggest changes, but simply enough positive change needs to occur so there is positive community sentiment that the game has significantly improved. 

Only then a free to play release might work, if the surviving community is liking it maybe old players come back, and if they come back and the player count is rising then it going free might kick the growth up a notch and really revive it. Free to play only works if people are actually wanting to play it, otherwise it just seems like a sad and desperate last attempt at survival, but if the game is actively improving and people start liking it the transition might actually work.

But don’t get me wrong, that probably isn’t going to happen. The effort to substantially change this game is just not worth it, they might try for a bit but more than likely the effort and time needed to really help this game is just going towards the next Battlefield title. Why try when you have the money already, just accept the loss and move onto the next game, and it seems like thats what they’re doing.

After Christmas 2042’s development went dark, and the rumors are saying that portal mode in Battlefield 2042 will be the only part that will go free to play, so not really the main game that people actually want to play, signaling a desperate bid to get a few people.

So overall 2042 is in a really tough spot, it has potential but the player base is in a death spiral and something needs to happen quickly. That should be a big effort to  improve the game, but realistically EA doesn’t have much time and it seems they think a free to play transition right now will revive this game, but all that will do is cement 2042 as the worst received battlefield title of all time.

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