January 21, 2008
Battlefield Heroes to be Free, Online, and Cartoony
The next chapter in the Battlefield series was announced today, Battlefield Heroes, and it seems that EA and DICE are taking a page from Chinese MMOs and Team Fortress 2. Battlefield Heroes is scheduled for release this Summer, will online-only, and completely free to download and play – could this "casual" FPS that is immune to piracy be the new direction of multiplayer PC games?
Although free to download ads will display within sections of the game, but will not appear within the game itself. According to Ben Cousins, senior producer at DICE, the ads "wouldn't work inside the fictional world".
Battlefield: Heroes will also allow people to purchase new items and content within the game. Cousins also promises that these micro-transactions will not include weapons and be mostly cosmetic, although both these comments sound contrary to other reports about the game.
As long as Ben Cousins is the one with the correct information (and I don't see why not), this sounds great. Leaving the ads out of the gameplay and making the micro-transactions only cosmetic is the best way to implement these features. I know some gamers have a problem with ads in games, but I've always been of the mind that as long as they are actually make the game cheaper (or in this case free) and don't impede gameplay that they are completely welcome. Micro-transactions also seem to be handled well since they won't allow a wealthier player to simply buy better a better character.
The exaggerated graphics are also a nice touch. The game will reportedly run on "grandma's laptop", meaning just about anyone with a computer can play, plus stylized graphics also don't get outdated as quickly as games that try to look as "realistic" as possible. Team Fortress 2 proved that having exaggerated characters also helps to identify characters, which is a perfect combination for cosmetic micro-transactions. I can also see how EA is interested in this model because it both prevents piracy while also lowering the barrier of entry.