In case you haven’t heard, Battlefield V’s pre-order numbers are apparently very weak, unexpected considering it’s one of the biggest series in gaming. That is, unless you look at the circumstances surrounding the game. For starters, the release date is sandwiched in between Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 and Red Dead Redemption 2. Normally, these are not games that Battlefield would cross paths with. Call of Duty normally releases in November and Rockstar only releases a game once in a blue moon. Pre-orders for those two games are apparently very high, and with Battlefield V caught right in the middle, it’s easy to see where consumers money is going and EA likely won’t move Battlefield V to the less crowded November.
The other reason that Battlefield V’s pre-orders are likely suffering is due to the games marketing. While the previous entry, Battlefield 1, fiddled with the idea of inclusivity using historical accuracy(Read: the Russians had female snipers and it was plausible that resistance groups had female members.), something that only a handful of people got upset over because they didn’t think any women fought, Battlefield V decided to dive head first into political correctness using World War II as nothing more than window dressing. A womans on the cover of the game, a woman featured prominently in the reveal trailer, and the first War Story they revealed was Nordly’s story, all in one event and in less than an hour. It didn’t help that the reveal trailer was nowhere close to serious, playing out more like a chaotic Battlefield match with goofy moments, which is not exactly what people think of when they think World War II. And that came on top of the fact that it doesn’t matter what faction you play as, you can still be a woman, you can be black, you can have a prosthetic limb, face paint, while wearing a bomber jacket and shorts with sunglasses on. The motto for multiplayer is “Go nuts!” At this point DICE has stopped caring about historical accuracy unless it’s actually important to gameplay, which none of the stuff mentioned above is. Their thought process was more that they wanted the game to be fun for everyone, make everyone feel welcome in Battlefield, even if it meant bending history to some degree. Not that there isn’t ANY truth to these depictions, but multiplayer takes it from a rare occurrence to commonplace. And then after all the backlash, Patrick Soderlund from EA and some developers from DICE effectively said “We’re on the side of history we believe to be right. If you don’t agree, you have two choices: Accept it and play the game, or don’t buy the game.” That’s not the exact quote, but that is what was said. So with DICE and EA effectively turning on their consumers, pointing a morally righteous finger at the crowd, and trying to cleanse their fanbase, it REALLY isn’t hard to see why people are jumping ship when the developer would rather pander to hot topics(Battle Royale included) rather than the people who have supported them for the last decade and a half. The Star Wars IP is in a similar boat.
So having said all of that, why do I think pre-orders don’t mean as much as they did, say, two years ago when Battlefield 1 was on the horizon? Well that’s because of the recently established Origin Access Premiere(Not sure if there’s an EA Access equivalent.). Granted, this only applies to PC, but I’ve said before that I feel like subscription services that offer all games day one for nothing more than the monthly subscription fee will begin becoming more prevalent and key to a publishers revenue. Under Origin Access Premiere, subscribers will get Battlefield V on day one for no additional charge, possibly even a few days earlier than the street date. The subscribers who plan to play the game will not show up on pre-order charts, and their existence will only be made known once the game actually releases and the player count is higher than the number of copies sold.
A single Origin Premiere subscription is $15/month. Multiply that by 12 months and EA is making $180/year off of every subscriber. If 3 million people subscribed just to play Battlefield V, even for just one month, EA makes $45,000,000. If all those players remain subscribers for an entire year, EA makes $540,000,000. Basically my point is that, so long as Origin Premiere exists, and a large chunk of gamers are subscribed to it, EA doesn’t have to care so much if players buy the game itself. It’s the same deal for Microsoft and their Game Pass, or Nintendo and the classic games they’re offering for free though a subscription to their online service starting next month. So for all we know, Battlefield will actually be a hit with players, they just aren’t spending $60 on it when they’re already spending $120 on Black Ops 4 and Red Dead Redemption 2, but they can get all 3 by paying $15/month to EA for Battlefield V. $135 is a lower number than $180.