Electronic Arts doesn’t care about Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 or its record-breaking pre-order numbers! There’s only room enough for two lumbering first-person military franchise in its corporate brain, and those are Medal of Honor and DICE’s Battlefield.
Not even two months after the publisher released its subscription-based premium service and expansion for Battlefield 3, Battlefield 3 Premium, it’s started talking up the future of the series. It took 6 years for Battlefield 3 to come out after Battlefield 2, but this time EA’s turning it around in a third of the time. Battlefield 4 is coming at the end of 2013.
At least, that is, the beta version of Battlefield 4. Dan Sheridan of Electronic Arts UK’s marketing team tweeted on Tuesday, “News just in: Pre-order Warfighter and get access to #BF4Beta.”
The Medal of Honor Warfighter website then updated with a blog post and the below video of Warfighter’s multiplayer play. Text in the video reads: “Plus, pre-order Medal of Honor Warfighter to access the exclusive Battlefield 4 Beta!”
EA Labels’ Frank Gibeau confirmed that the beta will run in the autumn of 2013. “Though Battlefield and Medal of Honor Warfighter each offer players a completely unique experience, they are united by their underlying technology base—Frostbite,” said Gibeau, “These are two of the hottest shooters, coming together to deliver a one-two punch of action, intensity, and shooter entertainment.”
Sifting through the PR speak coughed up by Gibeau, this announcement coupled with EA’s shooter release schedule reveals a great deal about how EA is approaching the changing market. In recent years, EA has slid into an alternating cycle of releasing a retail Battlefield game one year followed by a retail Medal of Honor game the next. The decline of game retail and the rise of subscription services like Call of Duty Elite means that EA can slow the pace of major releases and create a more sustainable stream of revenue from its shooters.
The success of Battlefield 3 Premium the service—EA racked up 800,000 paying subscribers in less than a month—means that it can support Battlefield 3 with new content and keep the game alive and selling for longer while supplementing that business with smaller Medal of Honor releases on off years. The beta of Battlefield 3 ran for just a couple of weeks ahead of the game’s release in 2011, so it’s likely that Battlefield 4 will follow shortly after in 2013.
The only question now: What console will Battlefield 4 be on?