EA thinks free games are the future. That is, as long as they are chock full of microtransactions–small payments gamers make to obtain upgrades or bonuses. Today, the publisher unveiled Battlefield Play4Free, a fully featured Battlefield title that will be free to download and play on PCs. The game is said to be a more realistic game than Battlefield 1943 with sandbox gameplay, 16 vehicles to destroy one another with, and 32-player maps. It is said to pull a lot of its inspiration from Bad Company 2, according to CVG.
Senior Producer James Salt described the game as “the best of Battlefield,” mixing in classes from Bad Company, the microtransactions from Heroes, and classic maps from the entire series. And it’s all free, sort of.
Free games, many microtransactions
The head of EA’s Easy division, Ben Cousins, thinks free games are the future and isn’t happy with the closed nature of the console industry. At the London Games Conference on Thursday, he spoke out about the console industry. “At what point do [gamers] begin spending their $60 a month on free-to-play [via] microtransactions, than on a console game? There’s an opportunity in the next two to five years to cause quite a significant disruption in the traditional triple-A console market. [I want] a guy looking at buying a game on a Microsoft console thinking: ‘But these games over here are free.'”
EA currently makes a majority of money from paid downloads. Cousins is likely looking toward Zynga, maker of FarmVille on Facebook, as his inspiration for a free game supported by microtransactions. Unfortunately, I’m not so sure users will spend $60 on micropayments in a free Battlefield game without feeling ripped off.
Cousins continues: “We’ve done a really good job of grabbing people’s time on mobile, taking over Mac and PC… Now I want to see us grabbing the television screen from console manufacturers. That’s not me speaking on behalf of EA, but myself.”
EA first announced free games back in 2008. While complaints about the closed nature of the console industry are increasing, there are no signs that it is dying. Do you think Cousins is right about the future? Would you rather be forced (or coerced) into spending $60 bucks on microtransactions or pay for your games upfront? Or maybe they should chock them full of ads instead.