Who would've thought, five years ago, that a new Star Wars title would be one of the most anticipated games of 2015?
Yet, here we are, with Star Wars Battlefront set to be one of – if not the – biggest titles of Christmas. Gamer anticipation has unsurprisingly been building to boiling point since its reveal at last year's E3.
There's a fantastic level of excitement for Battlefront,” says Alice Brandvik, senior product marketing manager for Battlefront at EA.
The team at [developer] DICE are genuine Star Wars fans and their love of the brand is evident in their faithful recreation of the universe.”
DICE found its success with the Battlefield series, so it's tempting to see Battlefront as simply a Star Wars-flavoured extension to that franchise.
But the two titles offer plenty of differences, and Brandvik is confident the changes will attract a greater number of mainstream players.
DICE's pedigree with shooter titles is well known and, whilst there will be some cross-over with core FPS fans, the Star Wars subject matter obviously opens this game up to a much broader audience,” she explains.
The team at DICE are genuine Star Wars fans and their love of the brand is evident in their faithful recreation of the universe.”
Alice Brandvik, EA
If the words ‘Star Wars' haven't already convinced you Battlefront will be a hit, take a look at the numbers.
EA launched a beta peek of the title last month, which ended up being the publisher's biggest to date. The interest drove ‘very strong' pre-orders for the game, and led the publisher to increase its sales expectations for the title to 13 million units this year.
We've had some great opportunities to get the game into people's hands before launch, winning Game of the Show at EGX and having over 9.5 million people play the beta worldwide,” comments Brandvik.
The feedback we've had has been great, and we're seeing real excitement for the game's launch.”
Of course, Battlefront isn't the only Star Wars property returning to screens this winter.
There's the long-awaited seventh episode of the film series, The Force Awakens, set for release in mid-December – plus the new Star Wars additions to games like Disney Infinity.
As part of the marketing wave surrounding the brand, EA has partnered with Sony to offer consumers a special PS4 branded with Darth Vader. (See ‘PlayStation Padawans').
That's just the start of its pre-release campaign for the IP.
Battlefront is a key priority for us this year and, as such, we have a triple-A launch campaign planned,” reveals Brandvik.
We're partnering closely with Sony, Disney and Lucasfilm across the campaign to make sure we're an integral part of the Star Wars universe for both gamers and film fans alike.”
EA is working alongside PlayStation to promote Battlefront, with a number of perks.
Chief among these is a Darth Vader-branded PS4 bundle, including a copy of Battlefront and four digital classic titles.
Sony has also launched a nostalgic TV advert, featuring a selection of iconic Star Wars ships and characters.
We are partnered with EA on every element of the campaign,” says PlayStation group marketing manager Lauren Bradley.
Since E3, we've worked together supporting regular asset drops, joint stands at events like Gamescom and EGX, and this will continue.”
She adds: Reception from fans and stores to the Vader console has been great. This Christmas will no doubt bring a whole new generation of padawans into the Star Wars universe, making the galaxy's most powerful console an awesome Christmas gift for such a broad audience.”
Sony's investment will expand beyond the launch of movie The Force Awakens, too.
The film release gives us an unique opportunity to see a second wave of sales,” explains Bradley.
This generation, the shooter audience is tending to switch over to PS4, so we've got high expectations for both launch and into next year.”