Electronic Arts used the International Developers Conference in Munich on Monday to unveil not just a new game, but a new business model. Battlefield Heroes will follow in the footsteps of previous Battlefield games save for one enormous difference: it will be completely free to download and play.
The game will be the first in EA’s new Play 4 Free business model, which the company says will generate income through advertising and microtransactions. In the past, microtransactions have generally been used to unlock bits and pieces of content through small purchases, for instance, buying a new car in a racing game. Since EA is claiming Heroes will feature “robust character customization,” there should likely be many opportunities for microtransactions to take place.
EA’s strategy with the new games seems to be getting as many gamers on board as possible with the “zero-barriers-to-entry” model. “Online gaming garners a massive audience,” said Gerhard Florin, EVP Publishing Americas-Europe at EA, in a statement. “People want to play games in new ways, with easier access that is quick to the fun. With Battlefield Heroes, EA brings its first major franchise to North America and Europe with a new distribution model and pricing structure adapted to the evolving way that people play.”
As far as gameplay goes, the most notable difference for Heroes as compared to previous Battlefield games will be the introduction of cartoon-style characters. The game was developed by DICE in Stockholm, which also claims that the free model will allow it to continually add content to the game. Battlefield Heroes will be available this summer as a download.
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