DICE has a history of rocky launches. Battlefield 4 came out of the blocks in 2013, but months of updates have put it on its feet. The microtransactions in Star Wars Battlefront 2 after its launch in 2017 saw it draw criticism from all users. Battlefield 2042 continued the unwelcome trend, with key features missing, extensive bugs and controversial additions such as the hero ''Specialist'' characters, attracting enormous negative reviews from users on Steam.
The series'' progress has improved, but it takes time to complete the first step, as well as one of the most remarkable upgrades it has ever seen behind the scenes. Last December EA announced a full-star management team to help improve Battlefield, including the likes of Call of Duty and more recently Respawn''s Apex Legends, while Halo veterans Marcus Lehto and Alex Seropian are onboard - Lehto is working at Industrial Toys on Battlefield Mobile.
A new look team is a welcome feature at DICE''s Stockholm headquarters, where series veteran Lars Gustavsson has been appointed as creative director, while Rebecka Coutaz has been appointed as general manager of EA DICE after previously serving as studio director at Ubisoft. A few days after the launch of Battlefield 2042''s first season, which included new map Exposure, new specialist Lis, and a host of new gadgets, Coutaz took some time to respond to our concerns about the
Thank you for coming along, and I really appreciate it as I know that you must be very busy - and I guess it''s been an interesting first six months on the job.
Because this year, Rebecka Coutaz is a fantastic time to join DICE, as it''s 30 years as a studio, and 20 years on battlefields. So this year, I''ve got to know the team. I''ve spent a lot of time with our team members, and I''ve got to know some of the other studios that are working on the franchise. So yeah, it''s been fantastic.
When you returned to kind of when you joined in December, what was the studio like when you joined it? Because I believe it must be quite difficult when starting a big game such this and then failing to get the reception you anticipated.
Everyone was shocked by Rebecka Coutaz''s success, as well as our community, our players and our team. It''s a company that has invested years of their lives into this game. And for that game, it was tough. We''ve made a lot of changes since then.
The first thing we did was to take a step back and work with all of the developers who worked across the studio. So DICE, EA Gothenburg, and ripple effect. And we did a retrospective on what did really work, what didn''t work, and what we have to build on? It took us about two months to do that kind of analysis, and since then we have made changes in organization, structure, tools, and communication in collaboration, really arming ourselves to be able to make great games and make Battlefield
What happened to 2042 at the start of the campaign was diverse reasons, according to your investigators. What were the reasons for it being launched in the research that you conducted?
I think there are a lot of benefits to this, especially the organisation, and I think also the experience of working from home. Even though it is the way we''re working today, it took time to adapt. And, as I said, we learned from the analyzers, and the topics we needed to focus on.
What were some of the first things you needed to do?
Rebecka Coutaz: Well, the first thing was that there were four leaders who left from the leadership team - the general manager, the head of content, the executive producer. So I got the opportunity to form a new leadership team around me, despite many of the previous leadership teams, including Ryan [McArthur] and Andreas [Morell].
The first thing I did was to create a leadership team with whom we manage the studio, and then just adapt, if possible, Battlefield 2042 for live management because they had been organized to be able to ship a game for launch. That''s just the beginning of the journey, and we must get organized so that we could continue to improve the game''s health and to continue to develop excellent content and quality content.
Unfortunately, I was not permitted to play season one when it launched, but I had a crack on the new map this morning. It''s gone really well, and it''s a step in the right direction, though.
Rebecka Coutaz: We wanted to focus first on the game health so that we could improve core gameplay mechanics etc and build content on that. Some players have said that there was not enough content, but our focus was really on the quality of the content. I really think we hit it, as we have strong feedback from the community.
A roadmap for what''s going to be done as well. How long did support take place for 2042, and there was some speculation and the belief that the team might have taken the move on already. Is it not the case?
Rebecka Coutaz: The following season has not announced any changes, so that will take place at another point. But just so you know the team here, and Ripple Effect, the game fully in Battlefield 2042. We owe that to our players, we owe it to ourselves. We cannot let ourselves down, however, we cannot let ourselves down. So, we focus on Battlefield 2042.
You know, we''ve delivered a couple of patches, each patch was a win for us. So evidently, season one is a win for us. Now, we are moving forward, but we''re completely in for Battlefield 2042.
So how many people are doing it in the future? How is it possible to do that compared to what I imagined were intended, and how did I respond? After the launch, we have launched a more supportive team.
Rebecka Coutaz: I''m sure you know that we never have any numbers! However, you may notice that the majority, the large, majority of DICE is working on Battlefield 2042, and that the Ripple Effect has our coworkers and brothers that are working with you. It''s our intention.
Is it possible to get the player numbers where they are at the moment, because they''re evident that the play numbers aren''t what you anticipated?
Rebecka Coutaz: Yes, it''s according to our intentions, so we''re moving forward with our intentions.
This applies to the team as well, and as Ripple Effects and Industrial Toys on mobile, and Marcus Lehto and his new team in Seattle, so please take a look back. How do you describe how this new structure works?
On the back of that, it''s a great time for me to join here on a personal level, because to be able to interact with industry leaders, like Vince [Zampella] and Byron [Beede] and Marcus [Seropian.] For me, this program is very helpful. They''re doing the game, they''re challenging us, and they''re giving us feedback. They''re really, really involved, and they''re giving us exceptional work.
And if you look at what Industrial Toys are doing today, they''re constructing Battlefield''s mobile game, they know how to make mobile games so that they can share a wonderful experience that they have, and that we can continue to iterate on our experience.
Electronic Arts is fully-in-flight on Battlefield, with Vince and Byron, as well as the leadership team on the Battlefield franchise together with myself. So, it''s very rewarding, and a lot of fun. Of course, the team here is really pleased and grateful because this is actually what the team had dreamed about for many years - to finally have an experience on PC and console.
You''ve been from Ubisoft and have gained some experience working with many studios on their own titles. How does that knowledge help with this new structure?
Rebecka Coutaz: Both Ubisoft and Atari and Infrogrames have extensive co-development experience. It''s one of my strengths, and it''s something that''s really close to my heart, because I think that by iterating on expertise we get even better and we can be successful in other nations. It''s also a great way to encourage teams to work closely with people from different backgrounds. It''s inclusive, and it''s quite diverse. I''m looking to share all
DICE has a good track record of developing things around - it happened with Battlefield 4, it happened again with Star Wars Battlefront 2, and it is likely to happen as well with 2042. But what is it going to take so that the next Battlefield game things do not start off too rough, so it''s not a case of slugging things around and just having a solid foundation?
Rebecka Coutaz:The most important thing is that we learn and that we learn from our mistakes, and that we rectify those mistakes so that we may make choices for the future. Today, we are doing that on Battlefield 2042, and the lessons we have already learned will help us for the future, which is for sure.
What''s your big vision for where Battlefield will go in ten years? It''s like a quite old-fashioned saying it''s going up against Call of Duty and everything, but is it that you see it going? What''s your big vision for where it''ll be in 10 years?
Rebecka Coutaz: Yes, that''s one of the reasons I wanted to join DICE as well. You know, while being Swedish I''ve all seen the brands they have created, the games they have created, and I think that we haven''t improved it for the future. At the moment, we are focusing on that field 2042 in order to continue to provide excellent player experience.
Is it possible to get it to where you wanted it to be at launch and to be the big Battlefield we all anticipated it would be?
Rebecka Coutaz: "We are doing everything we can and it gives me goosebumps." We were too disappointed that our players were disappointed. You know, it''s our 20th anniversary. We''ve just wanted to make it a great player experience.