Battlefield V has sold 7.3 million copies since its November 9th launch but the bean counters at Electronic Arts aren’t at all happy with the results having had “high expectations” for the franchise. Sales of Battlefield 5 fell some way short of EA’s forecasted results; in-house projections pointed towards 8.3 million unit sales.
The reasons for Battlefield V falling short are many and complex, some of which were EA’s fault, some of which were out of its control. EA itself pinpoints three key factors - launch timing, prioritising single-player, and the rise of battle royale.
"Unfortunately, the later release date meant the game launched deeper into a competitive holiday window where heavy price discounting was a big factor," said EA CEO Andrew Wilson. "In addition, we also made the decision to prioritise other features, including a single-player experience at launch, over a battle royale mode.
"This year, battle royale modes became incredibly popular in shooter games. As a result of these decisions, we struggled to gain momentum and we did not meet our sales expectations for the quarter."
These things are all kind of obvious and EA should’ve been well aware heading into Battlefield V’s launch. In terms of the release window, BFV arrived very late in the year and was already overshadow by COD: Black Ops 4 and Red Dead Redemption 2. It also launched about a fortnight before Black Friday, a period of deep discounts which would’ve done it no favours. EA knew all this but it did it anyway, clearly believing Battlefield V could still be an unmitigated success.
Then we have the single-player. It’s absolutely beyond me why DICE even bothers with a single-player campaign in Battlefield games. They’ve never been known for single-player; never even used to have single-player, and have certainly never had a great single-player campaign. Any expense here is just wasted time and resources for a tiny fraction of gamers who want a single-player campaign in a series totally entrenched in its multiplayer.
It was a bad call from EA and in the end meant Battlefield V launched without some of the modes we’ve come to expect, such as Rush. The focus on SP also no doubt contributed to the delay of the Firestorm battle royale mode which is now going to launch months after Apex Legends, another EA battle royale game.
For most franchises though, 7.3 million would go down as an impressive figure. It’s definitely not bad and DICE could rescue Battlefield V with the right support. It’s got a fantastic game on its hands, arguably one of the best in series history, it just needs to attract the player base in what is now a hyper-competitive field.