Call of Duty Vs Battlefield – EA’s Master Marketing Plan
As someone who spent time playing both franchises in their early stages, this rivalry is interesting. Call of Duty and Battlefield have always existed side by side, offering differing experiences respectively. Battlefield 1942 was a grand affair, packed with unique moments and fresh ideas. Those who played it will have at least one story to tell. Players fell into roles, they became experts in certain fields.
The scale of Battlefield 1942 was huge, growing with each new expansion pack. It’s near impossible to ignore the impact the game had on the market. At the heart of the Battlefield 1942 was a strong modding community. Mods like Battlefield 1918, Eve of Destruction and Desert Combat would go on to shape the future of the franchise. The creators of Desert Combat played a part in the development of Battlefield 2.
Call of Duty was a contained experience. Maps were smaller, combat was restricted to infantry only. The action was much more instantaneous, cutting out the learning curve and waiting time experienced in Battlefield. For the most part, those who played Battlefield 1942 also played Call of Duty. Both games may have been in the same genre and setting, but their differences in experiences separated them. It wouldn’t be till 2004 that Call of Duty would expand upon its multiplayer, adding larger maps, ranks and vehicles to the mix.
Yet again, while both franchises grew, the player bases would still crossover. Mods would still be key to both games. Call of Duty’s Revolt mod was doing the modern warfare setting far before Call of Duty 4 was a thing. Battlefield 2 was the franchise in its most purest form. DICE moved their game into the modern setting, complete with more robust classes, they also blended in strategy elements via commander mode.
This was the point where both franchises were offering totally different things. Close quarter combat was not that common in Battlefield 2. Call of Duty was moving players closer and closer together in its sequel. Call of Duty 2 dropped the ranks, vehicles and map sizes in United Offensive, focusing on fast paced action. These sacrifices made Call of Duty 2′s journey to the 360 smoother.
Each franchise spawned console spin-offs, but never numbered sequels until Call of Duty 2. The move to the Xbox 360 would mark the start of Call of Duty’s mainstream appeal. A by-product of this new venture was the rotation between Treyarch and Infinity Ward. Each studio would work on their own respective Call of Duty titles, with Treyarch producing more experimental entries.
While Call of Duty flourished on consoles, Battlefield continued to enjoy success on PC. Battlefield 2 was supplemented with a number of expansions, bolstering the game’s core content. As with previous entries, Mods played a key role in prolonging the game’s life. Eve of Destruction 2, Project Reality and Point of Existence 2, all of which had regular updates for years.
Both games enjoyed success across PC and consoles for a fair amount of time. Battlefield went on to grow into a futuristic setting with 2142, as well as producing the console only Bad Company series. Call of Duty exploded with the likes of Call of Duty 4 , Modern Warfare 2 and Black Ops.
After years of co-existing, both enjoying success, things changed. Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3 became rivals. The two franchises were now being put head to head with the question of ‘which is better?’ While the argument had existed for some time, it had never been so bitterly contested in such a manner.
Marketing played, and continues to play, its part. John Riccitiello (EA CEO) claimed that Battlefield 3 was directly competing with Call of Duty. The aim was to dethrone Call of Duty, a goal that would be repeated time and time again. EA clearly wanted to make statement, welcoming the surrounding ‘CoD VS Battlefield’ culture that had been developing.
Modern Warfare 3 went on to gross $1 bill worldwide within 16 days, Battlefield 3 enjoyed healthy sales of over 15 million copies. Clearly EA’s new rivalry approach had the desired outcome. From here, the two franchises would locked into a duel, complete with its own free marketing campaign. Ever since 2011, people have fiercely argued over which franchise is best. Any failures or low points are highlighted by the opposition.
Both franchises have become less about new ideas and depth, the sales numbers remain healthy. Call of Duty has seen some minor dips, along with fan backlash over the direction of the series. The frustration the fans have with its current state has been perfectly represented with the recent reveal of Infinite Warfare.
The reveal trailer has become Youtube’s most disliked video game trailer. Fans have already seemingly rejected the game. EA and DICE have seen their plans fall neatly in place. Battlefield 1′s trailer exploded, fresh off the back of Infinite Warfare. Their trailer went viral, spawning hashtags proclaiming the death of Call of Duty. Simply put, the marketing is already being carried out by the rivalry approach initially set-up in 2011.
Regardless of either game’s quality, the reaction to the respective trailers is a marketing wet dream for EA. The fact Call of Duty 4 Remastered is only available by buying a certain edition of Infinite Warfare suggest a lack of confidence in the product. EA has played the marketing game, and they’ve played it perfectly. Resulting hashtags and debate is just free marketing, nothing more. People have seemingly forget the buggy and broken nature of recent Battlefield games, which of course is exactly what EA and DICE wanted.
Wiping away the bitter tastes left by the likes of Star Wars: Battlefront, DLC, bugs and pre-order guff, EA has came out smelling of roses. This Call of Duty Vs Battlefield rivalry has came full circle. Activation’s complacency will no doubt cost them some sales. The fact is, Call of Duty is still going to sell well. You’ll still buy Call of Duty 4 Remastered when it releases as stand alone few months after Infinite’s launch. Call of Duty is not dead, EA is just doing what it does best, marketing.
As a side note to all the marketing chaos, it’s quite sad to see the state of both games. Modding has been abandoned by both, as too has depth. When the main selling point of a game is ‘we changed setting’ it’s a little disheartening.