Q: Having said that, Battlefield 1943 was multiplayer only. It's a smaller project, but a massive success. When I spoke to Gordon Van Dyke a few months ago I got the impression that you guys weren't in a massive rush to follow that up. That surprised me as it's a great game. Why the reticence to make another one?
PB: I wouldn't say that we're not thinking of it, because we are. It was an experiment and a successful one. Great quality. People got it. Some people hadn't played Battlefield before, so they got their first taste of it, and thought, wait a minute, this is actually awesome. We think that will obviously be a good connection to this product. If you got the quick fix from 1943, this will be the main dish. We haven't said no to building more digital distribution-only games, but we need to be careful. You shouldn't just try to make money out of things. Just because it's a success, doesn't mean you want to milk it. Battlefield is a delicate product that we want to make sure we're getting the most out of. Pushing out more 1943-like products could actually damage the franchise.
Q: It's a nice attitude that you don't want to milk the franchise. A lot of people don't take that attitude. Moving on; Battlefield 3, when that comes out… is it going to have a hard time following this game?
PB: Personally, I have a lot of confidence in the studio. There's no one that can match us when it comes to technical, artistic and gameplay balancing. I'm not worried about the quality of any future products. I'm quite sure that whatever might show up from DICE in the future, this will be the stepping stone to what might come up in the future. So, no, I'm not worried.
Q: One aspect of Bad Company 2's multiplayer which sounds really interesting is the hardcore mode. It sounds almost as if you're moving into ArmA, Op Flash territory…
PB: Yeah, it's more like that. Of course you can choose. You can choose if you want to play in this mode or not, but I can tell you that those layers of complexity, of how big the game is, really add to the whole thing. You can play the game your way, without trying to sound like a gimmick. Most of the things we're doing are feeding into player behaviours. Everyone at DICE is an individual. We don't want a game that is tailored to one specific person. We want it to be like: I like shooters, therefore I will like this game. How can we satisfy anyone?
Q: Lots of people are really worried about casual games, and I understand that as gaming has opened up, the Wii has brought people in. There's a concern that hardcore experiences are being diluted. Is that a valid concern?
PB: Yes, I think people are right in that. The biggest problem is that people made a lot of money on making noob-friendly games, because then the big mass market can pick it up. It generates money and then everyone wants to make their games, well, we can call them accessible, but in most cases it's not accessible, it's sloppy and kind of stupid. I think it's the attitude on how to create something that is accessible. It's like movies. You can make a movie that your mum can watch, but you can also love it and think this is a really good movie on a different plane to what mum likes. The great movies include everyone, but on different levels, and I think that's the challenge of making an accessible game. Accessible doesn't mean you make it stupid. It only means that when you pick it up, you will get it. Then it can be as deep or as hardcore as any shooter. We use rank to make sure you only meet people who are of a similar level, and on top of that we have the more extreme modes - you know, some people in the studio hate these. I don't want to play it. I'll just die. That is correct, you will die. If you're not cautious you will die. If you don't play together you will die, and that's the fun part of it.
Q: Do you think there's a chance hardcore gaming could die out? In 10 years time are we still going to have hardcore gaming?
PB: I will be very surprised if hardcore gaming disappears. I think more and more people are understanding what hardcore gaming means, because of the opening up to a broad audience. So there are people who didn't know they were hardcore gamers, who are introduced to more aggressive game modes, like the one we're showing here today. So I think that will open up. It's like sports. Just because a sport is small, doesn't make it hardcore. Just because fewer people play ping pong than football, doesn't make football a sissy sport. You can play it on different levels, and you can be more or less hardcore. You can play it on a party, you can play it in international leagues. It's not the sport itself that makes it hardcore or not hardcore, but then you have sports that are only hardcore. Lacrosse, and stuff like that. You think, why would you play that? There are different ways of seeing it. There will always be people who want to have their unique little quirky game mode. We still have people that only play 1942. They like that and will stick to it. They will not move on. We try to take the best pieces from all our Battlefield games and merge them into the game we have today. So, hardcore gaming, absolutely, but it will change.
Q: I'm curious. When you're playing Bad Company 2, what class do you favour?
PB: I think that because of my personality, I will play Assault, because I play stupid. I'm very aggressive and like to humiliate the enemy, finding snipers and stabbing them in the neck. That's of course the straightforward approach. You fall back into that when other classes don't work out. You've got to play it for a few hours to find your favourite class, and then your favourite game mode.
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is due for release on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC on March 5.