The old Battlefront games were very different. They were unashamedly multiplayer only, and the community could modify the games to its liking. But after 2015’s Battlefront didn’t live up to expectations, people started playing the blame game. And when John Boyega — famously Finn from The Force Awakens — complained about the lack of a campaign, it may have pressured EA and DICE into including Battlefront II singleplayer.
The complaint in question comes at around March 2016, which is well after the December 2015 period in which Battlefront came out. Everyone had had a chance to thoroughly play it, and player populations were already waning.
At this point in the game’s post-release window, there had already been a fair bit of talk about the lack of a singleplayer campaign. Some of it was from critics, but a lot of it was from EA and DICE themselves.
Whether they believed it or not, the multiplayer focus was already being blamed for Battlefront 2015’s sharp dropoff. Singleplayer was hardly the real problem, but John Boyega seemed to think a narrative would have fit nicely.
@EAStarWars Will fans get a full on offline story mode? It's more of an enjoyable way to learn controls.
— John Boyega (@JohnBoyega) March 2, 2016
The idea gained traction. Others chimed in with comments about wanting a story, and being able to play the game offline.
You can’t ignore Finn, so the EA Star Wars account replied asking if Boyega had tried the missions in Battlefront. He had.
@EAStarWars yeah thought it was great! But definitely leaves you wanting to engage within a narrative. Can I visit your base in the uk?
— John Boyega (@JohnBoyega) March 3, 2016
The EA UK account then tweeted back with “sounds like a date.”
Did Boyega actually visit? What was said in that meeting? He does seem pretty keen to convince them a singleplayer campaign is the way to go. Oh, to be a fly on the wall.
But let’s focus on the facts.
Just two months later during an investor briefing, EA Studios head Patrick Söderlund was talking about being criticised for a lack of singleplayer campaign. It was revealed that a campaign had been axed to get the game out in time for The Force Awakens. He mentioned EA would have to “course correct” if it made another game in the franchise.
It took until December 8th, 2016 before DICE confirmed that a Battlefront II campaign would definitely be happening.
Much later, in September of this year, we were treated to this Finn-tastic trailer for a Battlefront II singleplayer campaign:
It is of course possible that throughout all of this, Boyega has been a willing tool to promote a different narrative. That is, the narrative that 2015’s Battlefront failed because of a lack of singleplayer and not an overly simplistic design. Tin foil hat much?
EA are likely to make feature decisions based on a lot more than what one movie star says, of course. But when a movie star from within that franchise starts hyping fans for a feature, that feature could become less of a wishlist item and more of an expectation.
It’s also worth nothing that Battlefront II singleplayer is set up to address the specific complaints of Boyega. Developers have talked about singleplayer as a way to learn controls, as well as get accustomed to the Star Cards, and the three pillars of what Battlefront II is all about.