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After Battlefield 4, EA and DICE are changing how they make games

Electronic Arts CEO Andrew Wilson and DICE chief Karl-Magnus Troedsson claim they're changing their approach to game development in the wake of Battlefield 4's troubled launch.
"We have changed development processes, we've changed development timelines and we've changed testing processes and beta processes, all with a view to not have the issues again."
- Andrew Wilson, speaking to Eurogamer. Electronic Arts CEO Andrew Wilson claims the company has changed the way it approaches game development in the wake of Battlefield 4's troubled launch. In a far-ranging Eurogamer interview Wilson acknowledges that EA launched the game before it was ready to play, though he makes a point of positioning the game's issues as a result of the developer's attempt to "push the boundaries" of design and lays some of the blame at the feet of Microsoft and Sony. "When you are building a game on an unfinished platform with unfinished software, there are some things that can't get done until the very last minute because the platform wasn't ready to get done," said Wilson, when asked about whether the problems with Battlefield 4 are symptomatic of a chronically frenetic approach to development. "What was happening with Battlefield 4, even as we were pushing all of this innovation, was a lot of it we couldn't test until really late in the phase. I believe it was unique." Going forward, Wilson claims that the company will take pains to give its developers more time to work. "You can lengthen development cycles," he said, when pressed by Eurogamer about how EA will change its approach to development. "You can give a much longer timeframe between final and launch to get a lot more testing on the game. You can change the development process whereby you have more stable build requirements throughout the entire set of development. You can start betas earlier so you get it out in the wild earlier with more people banging away at it." This is in line with statements made by EA Studios executive vice president (and former DICE leader) Patrick Soderlund made during a conference call with shareholders back in January. "We were convinced [Battlefield 4] was ready," said Soderlund, who went on to promise that the company was "taking multiple steps to incorporate what we've learned and integrate them into future products." So is DICE, it seems. "People in the studio have taken this very personally," DICE studio head Karl-Magnus Troedsson told Eurogamer. "It has led to some very tough discussions about what we're doing. We're looking forward, we're not looking backward any more, and saying, 'okay, what do we take out of this hardening experience and what does that mean for us moving forward?'" The studio has already demonstrably changed the way it supports games after release, launching a public Battlefield 4 bug tracker and inviting players to test potential builds of the game via a special Community Test Environment client. The full Eurogamer interview is worth reading, as it includes more commentary from both Wilson and Troedsson on the launch of Battlefield 4 and the future of the Battlefield franchise.

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