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Battlefield declares February "Player Appreciation Month", is it enough?

February is "Player Appreciation Month" but is it enough?
February is "Player Appreciation Month" but is it enough?February is "Player Appreciation Month" but is it enough? (photo via blog.battlefield.com)

DICE has revealed via the Battlefield Blog that February is a month dedicated to the players of Battlefield 4. Battlefield players that picked up the latest in the series since the rather rough and tumble launch will be treated to Double XP weekends (two), Bronze and Silver Battlepacks every single day, Shortcut Kits, and Community Challenges. The video below describes the facts nicely, and the link to the full write up on the facts can be found here.

The real question for EA/DICE is going to be, will this be enough to silence the extremely vocal community that seems to think that EA can do no right?

With EA facing not one, but two different lawsuits regarding the launch of the title, and multiple updates that seem to fix one thing but break another, Battlefield is having a rough time getting off the ground in terms of pleasing everyone. Here's the thing; Battlefield is not alone in this boat, and it's an unfortunate boat to be in. Many have played a fair share of Day Z, and that game has it's share of issues. Now whether you can call Day Z an actual game yet or if it's still a crowd sourced alpha is up for debate, but the fact remains that both games have issues and the developers are handling it quite differently.

While Day Z is clearly marked, multiple times, as a product that you absolutely should not purchase unless you want to support the development of the title, Battlefield is a full retail product. Counting Battlefield Premium, EA and DICE are asking their consumers to put $110 USD into their product. A product that while functional, is frustrating. Multiple campaign saves have been deleted on my personal PS4, making me never want to play the campaign again out of disgust and boredom in the first few levels, mainly due to having had to repeat them no less than 4 times. Day Z on the other hand, is completely unapologetic about wiping your character progress, and we as gamers should accept it as part of the territory. After all, Dean Hall has said that Day Z is "roughly 20% of what I'd like Day Z to be". For those that have played the Early Access game, that's mind boggling. It may be somewhat unfair to compare a semi-indie title to a AAA blockbuster, but the core concept that absolute transparency and communication early in the cycle is ever present. Battlefield could never take on the Day Z model, but what about the Watch Dogs delay? Did the Marketing and Business teams at EA and DICE truly not test their product enough to say that it was or was not ready for the market. If this were a car that promised unrivaled driving joy, yet the GPS didn't work, we would have a recall.

Battlefield doesn't suffer from an identity crisis though, quite the opposite. It's actually a game that knows exactly what it wants to do, and what it is good at the core. Where the confusion and blurred lines come in are small complaints that turn off series fans, while attempting to pull in a larger audience. Recently, popular YouTube creator Matim0 posted a particularly fascinating video that brought a certain "cannot unthink" moment up. In the linked video Matim0 brings up the fantastic point that no maps in Battlefield 4 show the love that something in Battlefield Bad Company 2 displayed for dedicated map modes. When the loading screen pops up with certain maps on certain modes, players let out a deafening sigh. Rush on Flood Zone. Every time.

So the question returns, is this enough to make up for the launch? While the launch for some was the most frustrating thing in recent memory, possibly tainting new consoles, in the day of MMO's and thousands of off-site servers, we must expect a bit of growing pains unfortunately. While it can't be said that the launch was acceptable, it wasn't, but what can be said is that DICE's level of transparency, commitment, and reception to community feedback has been fairly astounding. Matim0 directly references Alan Kertz in the aforementioned video as putting out tweets that directly address community issues. One look at Kertz's Twitter clearly reflects that things such as aiming while sprinting, among general responses to bug and balance inquiries.

To be fair, EA and DICE could have easily just said "you bought it, now deal" and moved along with DLC plans and quite honestly, most of the gaming public would have bought it and continued playing. The gestures thus far, while no doubt many will vote they are not and never will be enough, have been good faith efforts on the part of a developer that truly cares about their community. More often than not the vocal minority in games takes the spotlight, and sours the argument for all involved. This has far reaching effects, branching all the way to mainstream media not taking gaming or gamers seriously, and even resulting in blatant and outdated stereotypes on some of the highest rated programming in the nation. The point that begs to be made here is that while the launch of the game may have been made by a few blinded-by-green business heads, the title continually receives updates, the community is more informed than most major titles, and the developers have made it clear what their priorities are.

While the response hasn't been perhaps what some gamers want or expect in the way of compensation for the launch, we cannot expect DICE and EA to just give the money back. The title is being enjoyed by thousands across the world, and has arguably improved drastically. EA seems to have perhaps learned from SimCity, which is only now receiving a much demanded "offline mode". This is a mode that was first touted as "impossible" within the game architecture, and then revealed by an intrepid group of users and the modding community as easily attainable. The offline mode is coming a staggering 10 months after the initial release. This is as a game that was unplayable due to the stubborn server choice and players inability to log in at all to play their always-online game. Even now SimCity sits at a mediocre standing with most gaming outlets, and a shocking if somewhat perhaps unjustified 2.1 user rating on Metacritic.

One thing we can be sure of, people will continue to play Battlefield, and DICE will continue to improve it. That is something to look forward to, and something that we all may need to remind ourselves that not everyone is out to get us.

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Joe also puts more opinion oriented articles on Hip Fire Gaming, a site he co-founded in order to progress the idea of positivity and dialogue about gaming, along with quick snippet news stories on the Hip Fire YouTube.