What just happened? Battlefield 4 has suddenly seen a huge influx of players as it approached its 8th anniversary, likely driven by the newly-announced release date of Battlefield 2042, a creative sales campaign by EA and a collaborative giveaway with Prime Gaming. Some US server regions were experiencing issues related to heavy traffic, prompting EA to add additional servers.
EA recently noted that Battlefield 4 had received an influx of players following the announcement of Battlefield 2042. This boon to the older game’s player base also coincides with a free promotional giveaway, a collaboration between Prime Gaming and EA's Origin platform.
Battlefield 4 codes were being given away to Amazon Prime subscribers through most of June. Prime was hovering around 200 million subscribers as of Q1 2021. Battlefield 4 sold 7 million copies after its release in October 2013, and by May 2014 only 2% of those were still being played.
Let’s be extremely optimistic and say that most of those players were still playing before EA’s announcement of Battlefield 2042 on Friday. It'd take less than one-tenth of one percent of those with access to Prime Gaming to claim their free code for Battlefield 4 to double the games active player base.
In this perfect storm of events, so many players were flocking to Battlefield 4, particularly the US West server region, so much so that EA noticed drastically increased waiting times in that region. This prompted the gaming giant to increase server capacity, as well as promise to continue monitoring the game to make further adjustments.
This new wave of players seems to be a brilliantly orchestrated event to increase sales of microtransactions in Battlefield 4. Making an older entry in a successful franchise free for millions, and then bolstering hype for the series as a whole by announcing the newest entry’s release date was a surefire way to get more eyes on their DLC and loot boxes for a game that had a meagre and further dwindling player-base.
Beyond that, anyone who has hopped into this game’s revival are going to be hard pressed to purchase the game’s several paid DLC. Without said DLC, players are precluded from joining matches with other players who do want to use certain paid content. Being many times cheaper at entry than purchasing each DLC at $14.99, and the base game if you missed the giveaway, you can instead subscribe to EA Play for $4.99 and get it all as long as your subscription is active. This might push a new group of consumers towards EA’s subscription service on top of the other spikes in purchases associated with Battlefield 4’s revival.
"In fiscal year 2020, EA posted GAAP net revenue of $5.5 billion..."
There is a popular saying that applies here: “If you're not paying for the product, you are the product.” EA did not rack up its 2020 net revenue of $5.5 billion because it’s immensely dedicated to the enjoyment of their consumers.
That feat was achieved because Electronic Arts is a machine dedicated to extracting money from its target market. With elaborate and subtle persuasion like this coming from major players in all industries, this is one more instance where every consumer must remember to consider whether their purchases are motivated by their own enjoyment and desire to support quality products, or if it is the result of elaborate scheming by companies with a history of questionably immoral decisions. That being said, there is nothing wrong with enjoying a few matches of Battlefield 4 with your friends, as long as you know that it was a decision you made for yourselves.