EA had a strong 2019, all thanks to Respawn – TheSixthAxis

EA had a strong 2019, all thanks to Respawn

It’s been an up and down year for many big name video game publishers in 2019 and EA is no exception. They may be ending the year on a high, but the past twelve months have been choppy to say the least as we edge closer to the next generation of home consoles.

EA games released in 2019

Coming into 2019, EA was still reeling from the somewhat disappointing launch of Battlefield V. With 2018 having been dominated by Fornite and PUBG, there just wasn’t as much of an appetite for DICE’s trademark brand of virtual war fighting, despite its World War II setting.

Then EA took us all by surprise. There had been rumours of Titanfall developer, Respawn Entertainment, working on a battle royale spin-off but no one could have guessed how much of a success Apex Legends would be right out of the gates. Scooping 25 million players in its first week, the game is still looking healthy as we tread into 2020, underlining just how vital Respawn is to EA’s development roster.

By the end of March, the talk around EA wasn’t quite as positive. 4% of the publisher’s workforce was laid off with 350 employees let go, and to make matters worse, Anthem – easily EA’s most hyped game coming into 2019 – got an absolute battering. Buggy, unimaginative, and lacking the heart we’ve seen in previous BioWare games, Anthem completely missed the mark and its publisher has been paying the price ever since.

It’s reported that EA plans to salvage the project, but outside a smattering of seasonal events, no official announcement has been made. On the whole, EA’s lineup has actually been pretty decent this year but it only takes one high profile flop to cast a pretty grim shadow, especially for BioWare. With Mass Effect: Andromeda and now Anthem, all eyes turn to the next Dragon Age game to deliver, both inside and outside the company.

Meanwhile, EA’s sports division remains consistent in its success and EA seem to be weathering the storm of anti-loot box legislation, even if most aren’t convinced by the “surprise mechanics” rebrand. Although they didn’t score quite as high as last year’s annual instalments, FIFA 20 and Madden NFL 20 still blazed their way to the top of sales charts, both seeing new modes and other welcome forms of experimentation. NHL 20, while not as popular, saw an improvement over its predecessor, though basketball fans had to go elsewhere for their fix this year, as NBA Live gears up to take on NBA 2K with the launch of the next generation.

Some of the EA best games this year have mostly come from stealthy low-key launches. Following the surprise reveal of Apex Legends, 2019 saw the return of Plants vs. Zombies with a new Garden Warfare style multiplayer experience dubbed “Battle for Neighborville”. Sea of Solitude was also one of the publisher’s highlights, scoring a 9 in our review and once again proving how important the EA Originals program is in diversifying their lineup.

We also got a new Need for Speed in 2019. Heat is a marked improvement over 2015’s reboot and the divisive Need for Speed Payback though the series hasn’t quite recaptured that magic.

To round things off let’s talk Star Wars. Much like Battlefield V, Star Wars Battlefront II had a tricky launch, but public opinion has swelled thanks to regular community events and major content drops, making it one of the best multiplayer games out there. This month sees the start of a new season featuring The Rise of Skywalker content to tie in with the latest file.

And then there’s Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. When EA struck a deal with Disney to work on a stable of Star Wars games, this is what fans originally envisioned. What we didn’t expect was for Respawn to take the helm, crossing genres to make one of 2019’s best action games. Once again, without the studio’s heavy lifting this year, EA would be in a much worse position.

Looking into 2020, publishers no doubt have their eyes on the upcoming PlayStation 5 and Project Scarlett, both arriving at the end of the year. As such, we know little of what EA has in the pipeline beyond supporting its most recently launched titles. However, it’s safe to assume that they have Respawn beavering away on something new, while BioWare’s different studios juggle a new Dragon Age and their Anthem overhaul. Having recovered towards the end of 2019, EA is looking much stronger going into next year.

Written by
Senior Editor bursting with lukewarm takes and useless gaming trivia. May as well surgically attach my DualShock at this point.