Battlefield 5

Why the TTK changes will not benefit new players

Battlefield 4 - Why the TTK changes will not benefit new players

I want to start by saying I believe DICE’s motivations for these TTK changes are, in fact, good. It’s important for the long-term health of any multiplayer game to foster and encourage new players and grow the player base. An example to illustrate my point: Magic the Gathering is a beloved, yet exceedingly complex game that tends to have a bracketed player base because of its steep learning curve, and therefore its developers work hard to ease the learning process for new players by lessening the complexity of entry-level products (among other methods). Therefore, I don’t blame DICE for attempting to take steps to improve the new player experience – I think it’s important.

However, I will argue that these TTK changes do not benefit new players, but rather are a detriment to them.

Here are three reasons:

  1. By reducing the TTK, the “low points” in the player experience are less frequent, but so are the “high points”. If we accept that reduced TTK directly reduces the TTD, then yes, new players will be spared some frustrating experiences. However, the flip side of this is that new players are much less likely to have those amazing – I would call euphoric – experiences where they deftly eliminate two or three enemies in quick succession. These experiences might be rare for newer players, but they are extremely important, because these moments are what get new players hooked on Battlefield. Even if luck played a part, for just a moment they felt like John Wick, and that’s an intoxicating feeling. The TTK changes will make these moments less likely for new players.
  2. Variance is important for new players, because it leads to moments where they can defeat better, more experienced players. I would argue that a faster TTK increases variance. The battlefield is a hectic place, and there are random moments where a new player gets the drop on a better player and kills them, creating a memorable experience for the newbie. With a slower TTK however, the better player has the opportunity to turn and outplay the newer player with superior aim and familiarity with the guns. I’m being hyperbolic to illustrate my point but: would you want to play the FPS-equivalent of chess, where the best player always wins an engagement? I would argue that this would get stale very fast, particularly for new players.
  3. The TTK changes have botched weapon balance, and new players are not blind to this. Let’s say Timmy gets BFV for Christmas, starts playing the game every day, learns he really likes playing as a medic. Six hours into his BFV experience, he wonders why his MP40 feels so ineffective. Timmy googles “BFV best weapons” and learns that many of the medic guns are simply terrible in the new TTK meta. Does this create a good experience for Timmy? No.
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I also believe these changes are predicated on flawed reasoning on DICE’s part – that fast deaths are responsible for new players’ frustration and faster new player “churn”. Now obviously I don’t have access to DICE’s data, and maybe it’s a lot more sophisticated than we realize. But I am worried that they simply saw a trend that new players most often left the game immediately after dying and drew the conclusion that something about deaths in BFV (the speed) is frustrating players. If this was really their logic, I believe this is inherently flawed.

Why?

Because in virtually ever FPS game in my gaming history, the most common time for me to end my gaming session is immediately after a death. It’s perfectly natural, and I’d say it’s just a part of the anatomy of a gaming session. You play and have fun for a while, then maybe something starts to draw you away from the game – maybe an upcoming real-life obligation, maybe hunger, maybe you have to poop – and this creates the distal cause for you to quit the game. Then at some point, you get killed, and your brain decides that’s a good time to quit. Maybe it was a frustrating death, maybe it wasn’t, but deaths in FPS games are natural punctuation marks – that’s why players leave after dying. I just have my doubts that DICE can prove that new players are quitting because those deaths were fast and therefore frustrating.

Anyway, these are my thoughts on why DICE is mistaken that these TTK changes are good for new players.

I love your game DICE, and I hope you make the right decision, because I want more people to love your game too.

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