Battlefield 3: End Game

Battlefield 3: End Game Features for Xbox 360

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Our honourable mentions are games we feel deserve praise but didn't make it into our games of the year list. This might be because the game in question wasn't released in 2012 or simply because only one person felt the game was worthy of consideration. This is our chance to give these games some time in the limelight.

Battlefield 3 screenshot

I know what you're thinking: 'Dave, you wally, Battlefield 3 wasn't released this year'. But before you start to assume that I've finally lost my marbles, let's take a look at the wider picture.

The Battlefield 3 we're playing today, at the end of 2012, is a vastly different game to the one we played in 2011. Through a deluge of drip-fed new content and updates that delivered major milestones and improvements, 2012's Battlefield 3, I expect, is finally the game that DICE always imagined it would be.

Battlefield 3's sustained popularity and relevance 14 months after its initial release is fairly indicative of the direction the industry appears to be headed in - that games are a service, and not just individual releases. Its ongoing importance is particularly noteworthy once you factor in the ultra-competitive, fast-moving online-FPS environment.

But why was Battlefield 3 so successful in retaining its significance? Putting aside the fact that it was a terrifically good shooter, I believe that there was one key factor to its success: perception.

DICE's approach to DLC was a welcome departure from the industry's typical method of delivering add-on content. The core concept remained familiar, of course - bundle a handful of new maps in each pack, throw in a few extra game modes and bonuses every now and then, and charge players the best part of a tenner for the privilege. But the decision to deliver themed expansion packs rather than a mishmashed fare of new content gave each DLC drop a sense of purpose and direction - and with it, a greater sense of anticipation.

A DLC drop for Battlefield 3 felt as big a release, if not bigger, than many of 2012's boxed releases. Each pack felt like a well-considered add-on, deliberately tailored towards particular types of players and experiences. They were all marketed superbly well, too, with even subtle differences, like referring to each one as an 'expansion pack' rather than DLC, or turning a simple Season Pass into a premium service, manufacturing inflated hype around each release.

I was sceptical about how well it would work, of course. I remember being concerned about Close Quarters around the time of its announcement, and of the belief that DICE was simply attempting to snatch a portion of the larger Call of Duty market, rather than deliver or expand upon experiences that core Battlefield fans would actually want. But to my surprise, Close Quarters turned out to be a superb addition, and – actually – my favourite of the packs released so far. The tighter, largely interior-based maps offered a great contrast to Battlefield's typical sprawling exteriors, and were not something you'd usually expect to work well in a Battlefield game. But it delivered exactly what DICE promised: a new, yet familiar experience within Battlefield. An expansion pack, not just DLC.

2012 was a year of change for the industry, then. It was a year where its most popular games were those released the year before, or not released at all. Just the other day, in fact, I read a report from gameplay-tracking site Raptr which claimed that 2012's most played games were Modern Warfare 3, League of Legends, Skyrim and World of Warcraft. That's a scary realisation for publishers, but equally a sign of opportunity to those prepared to embrace the elements which made such games popular.

The big continue to grow larger, then, to the point where older titles are casting shadows over major AAA releases 12 months later. That EA was prepared to cannibalise its own release – Medal of Honor: Warfighter – by giving players more reasons to continue playing Battlefield is unheard of, but a telling sign of the industry's future. The idea of games transitioning into a service isn't just a pipe dream for publishers hoping to widen their margins any more: it's already a reality.

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rbevanx's Avatar

rbevanx@ altaranga

Forgeting that this game came out in 2011 and not getting into the discusion of long term services make it eligible for 2012 like Borderlands and what not...

I agree with altaranga, I only played Battlefield 3 in 2012 and the server issue made me sell the game and it totally put me off all future online games for EA in the future.

To switch off the servers to a game only 8 months old, making people pay for the online service with online passes and DLC etc, which is more than enough to pay for servers (see Halo and COD for example) just to switch them off less than a year is not honourable at all.
They also came up with the excuse of "Well you can't have rent only servers and public servers" which reeked of total BS to me and then a week later after I sell the game, they switch the servers back on...So it was total BS and pathetic money grabbing/conning excuses.

I also could never finish the last CO-OP mission becuase of a glitch in the game's quicktime scene which many have suffered with and still do. Nevermind the HD update for single player where the screen goes green more than once and the countless bugs!

EA are total scum and they release a game (more than once may I add) where it's clearly no where near finished and fix it with other peoples time being wasted and then charge people for it.
The patches I downloaded for the game were bigger than the game it self! Just as well my internet is unlimited and I get a good speed.

If all games went this route then I would go back to my old school gaming. There is no way this sort of business practice should be commended by consumers or journalists.
Posted 13:13 on 29 December 2012
altaranga's Avatar

altaranga@ VG_Dave

No, as I refuse to play BF3 any more.

I did notice things got a bit better in the summer but things were nowhere near as good as they were late 2011 to early 2012.

My point is that there was a significant dip in this so-called service for a good four months or so in 2012. I fail to see how this complete balls up by EA qualifies for an honourable mention.
Posted 12:31 on 29 December 2012
Mintyrebel's Avatar

Mintyrebel@ DancingRhino

Wrong article mate :P
Posted 11:16 on 29 December 2012
VG_Dave's Avatar

VG_Dave@ altaranga

Altaranga, I wrote an article about Battlefield 3's server problems back in July. Soon after it was published, EA boosted the number of official servers and I haven't personally experienced as much of a problem since. Are you still having issues with the servers?
Posted 09:58 on 29 December 2012
MJTH's Avatar

MJTH@ atheistium

The points Dave makes in this article are right. Games are becoming more long terms services then short term gameplay fixtures. Developers want people to come back to play their games so that:

A) [Optimistic view] theirs games are played for long periods of time and that there is a healthy and active community on the game, for as long as possible, that shows appreciation for the their work and the product.

B) [Cynic view] so that players spend less time and money, on competitors products and more time and money paying for subscriptions/ micro transactions on the same product, so when the sequel to that product comes, current players will see it as the next step to playing the game they love etc...

I just felt it was a little funny that part of the point of "honourable mentions" is to give some games some "time in the lime light" which Battlefield 3 really didn't need. The games I picture falling under the term honourable mention are games that not everyone understands the appeal of, but has impacted a staff writer in some way. Then again considering the amount small, but big impact, indie games to have come out this year I guess this view no longer fits, so Dave decided to defy convention, which is good for him.

And besides I thought Dave had lost his marbles long before this article had come out.

Just kidding you ;)
Posted 09:44 on 29 December 2012
DancingRhino's Avatar


I'm with minty on the whole here. No mention of FTL anywhere. Go F yourselves everyone
Posted 22:43 on 28 December 2012
altaranga's Avatar

altaranga@ FantasyMeister

Scammel is incorrect if he thinks that the BF3 server issues are an example of a good service, though. Should have read "let's take a look at the wider picture whilst ignoring the bits I don't really want to talk about."

And when I read Close Quarters was his favourite I assumed the article was a joke. Perhaps it actually is. Time will tell.
Posted 22:29 on 28 December 2012
FantasyMeister's Avatar


Scammell is correct, games are becoming services that defy annual boundaries. Another example would have been Borderlands, released in 2009 but didn't really reveal its true nature until the DLC arrived in 2010.

Then you've got titles like Forza 4, released in 2011 but we're still playing it.

The whole FIFA series could, if EA wished, just be released as one game with yearly expansions/updates, a continuous service with consistent leaderboards, but I think they're quite happy making people fork out £44.99 each year instead and carry on turning off the older servers once a game has been out 2 years.

Battlefield 3 might turn out to be a different beast, I haven't played it but it seems like too big a juggernaut to simply let die if it's replaced by Battlefield 4.

I'm sure some gamers feel that it's unfair that they can't nominate World of Warcraft each and every year, it's the perfect example of gaming as a service. I think Project Titan might turn out to be a better example, time will tell.
Posted 19:29 on 28 December 2012
atheistium's Avatar


Don't understand the comments... urmm...

Following taken from above;

"This might be because the game in question wasn't released in 2012 or simply because only one person felt the game was worthy of consideration. This is our chance to give these games some time in the limelight."

"I know what you're thinking: 'Dave, you wally, Battlefield 3 wasn't released this year'. But before you start to assume that I've finally lost my marbles, let's take a look at the wider picture."
Posted 19:16 on 28 December 2012
p0rtalthinker's Avatar


Hahaha oh Scammell
Posted 18:58 on 28 December 2012
dudester's Avatar


it's ok dave's article changes daily tomorrow it won't be battlefield :D
Posted 15:56 on 28 December 2012
Mintyrebel's Avatar


Oh dear Dave... At least he didn't pick Monopoly....
Posted 14:57 on 28 December 2012
MJTH's Avatar


Looks like Dave flip-flopped on the whole of 2012 and has decided to choose a safe-ish bet from last year. It's the "expansion pack" DLC has changed BF3 this year from what it was last year, but I think you can think of something better then this for an honourable mention of 2012, Dave...
Posted 14:11 on 28 December 2012
altaranga's Avatar


I just have one word that seems to be absent from the little essay:

Posted 13:16 on 28 December 2012

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Release Date: 12/03/2013
Developer: D.I.C.E
Publisher: EA
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