If you're among the bug-hit Battlefield 4 players who are now lamenting the day DICE ever invented the franchise, the following might perk you up. According to a series of reports, DICE isn't working on the next Battlefield game - the torch may have been passed to either Visceral, the studio behind Dead Space, or Criterion, sometime custodian of the Need for Speed franchise.
Last week, Eurogamer published a report based on discussions with the gossip-mongers at Wedbush Securities. According to the piece, "Criterion Games is working on a military shooter that may become a brand extension for the Battlefield franchise in [financial year 2015]."
The WS employee behind the report apparently "spoke with [EA] management on Thursday afternoon [5th December], and although they have not yet announced a version of Battlefield for FY:15, they confirmed that our understanding is spot on and that if a version of Battlefield were to be released in FY:15, it would be developed by a studio other than DICE."
Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter now thinks that Visceral rather than Criterion is the developer in the hotseat, however - he issued an update to Eurogamer after the report's publication.
It's certainly a claim that chimes with Visceral's recent movements on the hiring front, as explored by NeoGAF user Nirolak. The developer is "seeking a highly skilled Multiplayer Designer", for instance, in what constitutes "a major opportunity to contribute creatively to an exciting franchise". It's already known to be working on next generation shooter for Xbox One and PS4, though this could be one of EA's Star Wars projects. Or indeed, Dead Space 4, though this seems unlikely given the third game's dismal sales.
Nirolak also points out that Visceral helped develop Battlefield 3 DLC pack End Game, and that a large number of the studio's staff worked on Battlefield 4. The developer has accumulated a fair bit of experience with the franchise, then.
Speaking to OXM over the summer, DICE's Patrick Bach offered little indication that the developer is moving on from Battlefield. "I think people would be very disappointed if we stopped making Battlefield games," he said. "People sometimes ask why we 'only make Battlefield games'. And it's like, firstly we don't only make Battlefield games, and secondly, if we stopped making them people would hate me!
"We don't make them just to make money or force them on people, we make them because we love doing it, and our fans want us to do it. They wouldn't be playing it still if they didn't like it."
DICE does, however, have rather a lot on its plate at present - Battlefield 4's DLC packs, a new Star Wars: Battlefront and a new Mirror's Edge. It's not inconceivable that the studio could do with a little help. EA's financial year 2015 ends 31st March 2015, incidentally. What do you think?