Battlefield fans have long called for another Bad Company game. In fact, before this year's Battlefield game was announced, some had hoped it would turn out to be Bad Company 3, not Battlefield Hardline.
"We hear those comments as well and see them," DICE boss Karl-Magnus Troedsson told Eurogamer. "There were some people who were saying, 'why are you building Hardline? You should build Bad Company 3 instead.'"
DICE has of course heard the calls for a new Bad Company game, but when it comes to making new games in the much-loved shooter spin-off series, there's a bit of a problem.
And that problem is, DICE isn't sure what people really liked about Bad Company, and thus isn't sure how to go about making a sequel.
"We take all this into account when we think about the future, and do franchise strategy," Troedsson said. "But there's one thing that lingers with Bad Company that we've been asking ourselves: what is it that the people really liked about Bad Company?"
Battlefield: Bad Company, which launched on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in June 2008, was the first in the series to feature a fleshed out campaign with characters and the first to be built specifically for consoles. It revolved around squad combat, with a story that was praised for its humour, and competitive FPS multiplayer some said was the best on console at the time.
It was followed by a direct sequel, Battlefield: Bad Company 2, that launched in 2010 for PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Like its predecessor, Bad Company 2 was critically and commercially successful. Eurogamer reviewer Dan Whitehead wrote: "Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is quite simply a superb package, with neither single-player nor online feeling like it's been given short shrift. They come together in the most robust, nuanced and carefully crafted game of its type this hardware generation. Modern Warfare is the obvious benchmark, and Bad Company 2 meets and even passes it with ease. But it's the high bar it sets for a genre mired in complacency that makes it so invigorating."
But we haven't heard a peep out of Bad Company since then, with DICE focusing on Battlefield 3, then Battlefield 4 and now Battlefield Hardline in partnership with Dead Space studio Visceral.
So what's up?
Troedsson goes back to the problem of struggling to pin down exactly what it was about Bad Company that was great.
"Some people say they found the multiplayer controls faster and more direct," he said. "Some people liked the single-player and the characters and the humour. People love different things about it. It's starting to almost get to that place where, if we were to make a sequel to Bad Company, what would than even imply?"
He continued: "It's scary to go back and try to remake an old fan favourite when actually no-one can really put their finger on what it is people love. Bringing back the characters and creating a great single-player out of that, sure, I can understand that.
"But some people say this: the Bad Company 2 multiplayer is the best you've ever done. Okay, why is that? It's hard for people to articulate what that is, which is actually hard for us. It would be hard to remake something like that. Can we do it? Of course. We have our theories when it comes to the multiplayer."
It's easy to predict that DICE will release Battlefield 5 in 2015, although EA boss Andrew Wilson has said we shouldn't assume that, and Troedsson himself has suggested the company may tinker with the recently-established launch cadence of releasing a new Battlefield game in October or November.
Which begs the question: will DICE make another Bad Company game?
"Well you'll have to wait and see," was Troedsson's cryptic response.
"The Bad Company sub brand is something we hold very near and dear. We'll take that into account when we think about the future.
"It's never dead. You can always revive it, as with any TV series, movie or IP. It's going to come down to, if people really want it and if a team inside my group really wants to build it, then sure."
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