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Battlefield V ditches season pass and loot boxes, takes on Red Dead Redemption 2

Electronic Arts plans to monetise upcoming blockbuster shooter with live service and cosmetics after its arrives on October 19th

EA continues to adapt the business models for its flagship franchises as it targets longer-term revenues, meaning key changes for Battlefield V.

Announced last night, the latest entry in the shooter series returns to the original's World War II setting and focuses on squad-centric multiplayer as well as a revamped co-op mode and (unlike this year's Call of Duty) a single-player campaign.

Of most interest, however, is the new Tides of War live service, which will keep players engaged with time-limited challenges, new maps and additional multiplayer modes which will be released after the game launches.

There's no word on how regular new Tides of War content will be, nor how long Electronic Arts is planning to support, but it's introduction is no surprise to anyone who has been following the company closely in recent years. In its most recent financials, the publisher revealed that live services have accounted for 40 per cent of its total revenues over the past year, taking in $2.2 billion in bookings.

The most obvious example of these services is FIFA Ultimate Team, but the publisher has suggested its sports titles could be transitioned from annual releases to live services after success with such a model in China and Korea.

CFO Blake Jorgensen has gone as far as describing live services as "the bedrock of our business" and the importance of Battlefield to EA's portfolio makes their introduction into the shooter inevitable.

Cover image for YouTube video

Tellingly, the shift to live services in Battlefield V means an end to the Premium Pass, which EA has previously used to sell expansions and additions to the most recent entries in the series. This also cements the learnings from the 2015 Star Wars Battlefront, where the sale of map packs and a season pass splintered the multiplayer community, making it harder for the publisher to continuing engaging all customers beyond launch.

As with Battlefield V, the season pass was dropped for last year's Battlefront II and replaced with loot boxes - prompting the well-documented backlash that led to the Star Wars shooter disappointing both EA and its investors.

It's clear Electronic Arts has learned from this experience. Having dropped premium loot boxes from Battlefront II just months after launch, the firm has shown no signs of reintroducing them in Battlefield V. Instead, the game will monetise its users by selling optional cosmetics via microtransactions.

The emphasis in last night's reveal on extensive character customisation - including the introduction of female soliders - will no doubt see EA push this as its main source of post-launch revenue, as it gives more players a way to assert their unique identity in Tides of War. It's a proven model that can be seen in numerous titles from Overwatch to PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds.

Finally, it's worth noting Battlefield V's release date: October 19th - just one week before Red Dead Redemption 2.

Evidently Electronic Arts is confident the imminent arrival Rockstar's hotly anticipated Wild West epic won't have a significant impact on sales - something Activision (and a few other publishers) seems less sure of, having pulled the release of Black Ops 4 forward by a whole month.

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James Batchelor


James Batchelor is Editor-in-Chief at GamesIndustry.biz. He has been a B2B journalist since 2006, and an author since he knew what one was