The Frostbite 3 engine has been a big investment for Electronic Arts, but the publisher is confident that it’ll pay off, so confident that the team working on it has grown to 75 full time developers from the original 35, as EA Games Label Executive Vice President Patrick Söderlund explained as part of an interview on CVG:
At the time it was unusual to put arguably the best 35 programmers that we had on something that wasn’t a game. That felt very awkward, frankly. But we did it. It was almost like a laboratory, an experimental environment and I gave them specific feedback that they could do whatever they wanted. I said, ‘do what you think is right, do what you think is the best possible technology solution, but think about innovation and stuff that will make gamers’ jaws drop’.
There are about 75 people full time today working on Frostbite and they put out, more or less, a ‘drop’ of Frostbite every month to the 15/16 development teams that are using it.
Söderlund also specified that the development team continues to release small updates to the engine, increasing its flexibility and empowering its evolution as opposed to third party engines that rely on external factors for updates.
We almost look at it that Frostbite 2 is equivalent to a Battlefield 3 to that team, and then Frostbite 3 is equivalent to a Battlefield 4 to that team. But then we have our ‘premium service’, which are the drops that come in between. So it’s like a continually evolving engine and it’s clearly been a very important thing for us as a company.
Finally we learn how having most of the publisher’s studios working on the same engine provides a relevant advantage in development and problem solving:
The final thing for us is that, to be able to have 1,600 or 1,700 people trained on that engine means that when something goes wrong – and it always does, in all game development – my CEO Magnus who runs DICE can pick up the phone and call Aaryn [Flynn] at BioWare and get him to put some of his guys on the problem for a few weeks. That collaboration is a gigantic win for us, to the point where people don’t realize the importance of that.
It’s actually quite hard not to realize that. I’ve always felt that publishers spread out their resources and teams too thin working on a plethora of different engines, while having a single solidly developed and flexible one seems to be a much more viable and advantageous solution. Square Enix is doing the same with Luminous Studio, and I’m quite sure other publishers will follow the lead in the future.
Now I’m actually wondering what games we can expect from those 15/16 studios, as we definitely don’t know all of them yet.