World War I didn’t make a lot of sense for any of the countries involved, but it’s making sense for Electronic Arts’ bottom line.
Battlefield 1, the latest entry in developer DICE’s military shooter franchise, has 19 million players, according to massive video game publisher. It’s growing 50 percent faster than Battlefield 4 did through the same period of time — about six months — which is important for EA because big game companies like that rely on recognizable, tent-pole games for a significant portion of their revenues.
Prior to the release of Battlefield 1, a loud contingent of fans claimed that they wanted to see a return to more classical theaters of war. After years of modern and futuristic takes on both Battlefield and Call of Duty, EA and DICE were the first to roll back the clock. With Battlefield 1, the studio decided to go back to World War I, and fans have rewarded that choice by buying the game, DLC, and other digital goods.
The growth of Battlefield 1 is also a sign that some prior missteps and technical issues have not haunted the franchise. Battlefield 4 was critically acclaimed at its launch, but the shooter had a number of connection bugs that plagued it for months and turned many fans off of the series. EA also attempted to leverage the Battlefield name with a half-step sequel subtitled Hardline that focused on police and armed robbers. That game did not have the tech and gameplay advancements that many players expect from a new Battlefield, and it was easy for industry observers to wonder if EA had done some kind of permanent damage to one of its biggest brands.
But now, with Battlefield 1 outpacing previous entries in the game, it’s clear that DICE and Battlefield are as strong as ever.