It’s sometime around 2012. An extreme amount of my time is consisting of the following: Grind, Freeze, Restart. Some may have figured out what I’m referring to: Of course the beloved Operation Metro. Opposive to BF4 and Hardline, one could easily remain on firstly the same map, and secondly, even the same server for hours – too many hours.
Why am I telling this? Basically, it’s part of a confession. I’ve been a passionate statwhore for a decent timeframe in BF3. M16, 200% tickets, Operation Metro. Three reasons why I put 1000+ hours in this game on public servers, drastically decreasing with every further succesor to Battlefield 4, parallely to more investment in competitive matches. I used to become mad by randoms not reviving, falling below a certain KD, you name it. To clarify, the point here is not to blame someone else for this, but rather to shed light on the structures within the game supporting such behaviour, somewhat OCD drive.
What exactly is Battlelog though? Pretty much the main hub for any BF player, the place to go for every individual trying to figure out how long they rocked that DAO-12, or how many kills they still require in order to have the next insane unlock available, like a completlely pointless nightvision sight, or another useless emblem for your useless profile emblem on your useless Battlelog profile.
I do understand the vision and concept behind it, and yes, being able to command a 64 server from your tablet via the app, commander mode itself didn’t work out well itself though, or checking the state of your soldier in the bus is state of the art and suits the target group – young, internet affine, gadget-liking people.
I have two major issues with Battlelog after all, and they’re not rooted in its sheer existence, but in its arrangement.
Going back to my confession at the beginning, part of it was caused due to the capability of checking your KD every second. The whole platform Battlelog is putting way too much emphasis on the aspect of portraying and tracking your solder via statistics. Again, the general idea of saving every action one is executing in every single online session is interesting and quite the achievement. Nevertheless, one may question the way these stats are presented: Ingame and on first sight, a player is reduced to Kills/Deaths, Win/Loss, Score per minute, and playtime. I’d love to see a return to the Bad Company 2 scoreboard: You did only see the score being achieved by players, but no KD. Would it prevent bad players from performing awfully? No, but they might get an understanding of the correlation between actively supporting your team in the midst of objectives and scoring points – the very core of the game. They might leave their learned pattern of shooters being all about killing as many opponents as possible without dying (Hello Call of Duty!). I strongly believe in a subtle change like the scoreboard during rounds having more of an effect as one might imagine. I understand them introducing the KD on the scoreboard for Battlefield 3 and afterwards, as in 2011, EA tried to thoroughly pursue the CoD followers. But they would have the means to educate their playerbase in other directions, if they wanted.
Psychologically, how does the constant availability of every single statistic affect your users? Sadly, I’m in no position to present an extensive study on this, all that’s in my reach are guesses.
It leads to people grinding specific vehicle/map constellations in order to ejaculate about a virtual number. Take Rush on Kharg Island in BF3, it’s unspeakable how many tried putting their numbers up by flying the insanely overpowered chopper on the Rush version of the map.
It leads to people rather grinding against bad opponents, as they assume the following higher KD ratios have more significance to others than simple skill – which is ironically obtained by playing equal/better enemies, not exterminating weaker ones. A simple solution is a serious, competitive matchmaking with ranks. As of now, part of the communities public heroes belong to the kind of people, who’d take casual CS:GO serious, or remotely care about a series of kills in an 8v8, public Halo Big Team Battle round. They are not to blame: There is no distinctive measure of telling people the relevance of their actions in the bigger picture. Teams competing against eachother have no support and not enough reach, as if they could enlighten typical pubstackers.
This situation of people defining their capabilites exclusively by (kills in) public matches and the non-existence of proper esport structures, multiplied by a tool like BL, encouraging one to increase a random number with more or less no impact on your true competence ingame rather than working on the latter – all this mixed up is an excellent impulse to play in a style not containing too much teamplay or game sense.
People prefer playing for unlocks, the top of the scoreboard, a minimal increase in stat XYZ over playing for simply winning for your team via objective play. Small infantry arenas are besides an outstanding way to teach players the importance of teamplay, teamshot à la Halo, the very essence of desiring the win of your team more than anything else.
Sometime they’ll give a ‘Hoaah’ and nobody will come
The second major criticism I have about Battlelog is it’s approach as a closed system. It may be comfortable having all your team organization, forums, stats and origin friends in one place. But it costs more than it delivers: You’re cutting off huge shares of your scope.
Interactions between BF players on battlelog are seen and processed by BF players being regularly online – no one else. You’re basically taking away exchanges between people from social networks, where a visibility outside of your usual base exists, and placing it in a dark room, cut off from other platforms. No, the ‘Share on Facebook’option does not help at all in this regard.
What I’m saying is: Why not rely on huge social medias in the likes of Twitter, Facebook etc. and take advantage of hundreds of millions users? Why exclude your fanbase from places, where all other players tend to be active on anyway? A post, feed item, whatever on Battlelog can reach 100 people, and that’s only if one is not having dead accounts in the friendlist. A post on any other social media platform has the opportunity of being shared, and therefore the chance of being seen by anyone. EA can easily access new players, as BF players exchange on an open platform, being used by potentially millions of new customers. I’m aware of this being the case already, but without Battlelog, the outreach of the BF community would be strengthened further. At the moment, EA is just shutting away social interactions between players in an isolated position, where it’s in no way acting supportive for the product.