Battlefield Heroes Announced

By Maarten Goldstein, Jan 21, 2008 5:21am PST

Electronic Arts today announced that this summer will see the release of Battlefield Heroes, a free to play PC multiplayer shooter featuring a Team Fortress 2-like art style.

According to EA, the game will be easy to pick up and play, and among other things will feature character customization, matchmaking based on skill level, and a "deep online meta-game."

"We put a different twist on this Battlefield game going with the cartoon-style graphics and gameplay," said EA DICE senior producer Ben Cousins. "There's something here for all types of players--be it our core Battlefield fans or casual gamers. With the new online model, we will continually add new content to keep the game fresh and keep players engaged, while integrating player feedback in real time. As a game developer, it is such a cool new way to make games."That new content won't be free, as Electronic Arts notes that the game will generate revenue through advertising and micro-transactions.

No screenshots were released, though the game is featured in the new issue of Games for Windows Magazine.

Click here to comment...

Comments

45 Threads* | 180 Comments










  • Honestly this sounds like it COULD be great to me. Basically: “Buy the game you want”

    1. You only have to buy stuff that you like. Sure, there will likely be some bundles, but there are stuff that you will not be paying for. An enemy drops a weapon in the game. You pick it up and try it out. You like it, then you buy it. If not then you never pay for that part of the game. Look at your average online shooter. Most of the weapons are never used by gamers. Devs put them in for diversity, but really there are only a handful of guns that people are going to use. With this model you can just buy the weapons that fit your play style or that are actually decent.
    2. Devs are encouraged to make better content. The art and game design has to be great on each item in order to get people to buy it. If they release a weapon or vehicle that does not look or do anything cool, people will not buy it.

    Possible negative decisions:
    - Levels are part of the micro-transactions. This segregates players. Weapons, vehicles, or outfits can be used without any problems. But maps have to be purchased by everyone or else you’re going to keep getting booted from every server. I am not too worried about this, but it is a potential problem. I imagine they will do a couple of large expansion packs of levels.
    - In-game advertising. This COULD be done fairly tastefully, but it takes a fair amount of work by both the artists and the marketing folks when it comes to choosing the advertisers and choosing the ad. I don’t really care all that much about advertising in games. The Splinter Cell games did a pretty great job of this as do sports titles. Honestly what is really needed is more variety. When 1 level is plastered with the same ad for a product, it seems unnatural. However when the are all kinds of ads in a level it is a lot less startling. I would also be cool with banner ads in the server browser and the other menus.
    - The cartoon factor. Valve used the cartoon factor as a positive when it came to gameplay. They put a lot of work into recognizable silhouettes for each class. This helped for players to quickly recognize the other player’s abilities, so it was not simply a facelift on the game. It also served to focus a player’s attention on the stuff that mattered (the objectives) rather than clutter the view with pieces of scenery that don’t actually matter to gameplay. If EA/DICE just picked the art style to make it more friendly to consumers or to copy TF2, it is pretty worthless. Hopefully there is some actual gameplay benefit from the art style. It will also be important for the style to have a unified feel across all the content. I loved stylized games and I am hopeful this will really bring out the gameplay.
    - The shorter map time. One of the positives and negatives to the BF games has been the huge maps. While they are fun for teams that are organized, they wreak havoc on any random collection of players. Getting organized or making a real push in the BF games has always been tough. It is so open and there are so many objectives, that it required very experienced players to do well. If they were to tighten up the maps a bit and also decrease the number of objectives, I think it could really make for better gameplay. I never enjoyed when a match went until the timer expired. It was just a long frustrating battle.

    So that is my 2 cents. I am looking forward to seeing how this game pans out.






  • Now that I've had two minutes to think about it, I don't like it.

    =====
    'According to EA, the game will be easy to pick up and play, and among other things will feature character customization, matchmaking based on skill level, and a "deep online meta-game."

    "We put a different twist on this Battlefield game going with the cartoon-style graphics and gameplay," said EA DICE senior producer Ben Cousins. "There's something here for all types of players--be it our core Battlefield fans or casual gamers. With the new online model, we will continually add new content to keep the game fresh and keep players engaged, while integrating player feedback in real time. As a game developer, it is such a cool new way to make games."

    That new content won't be free, as Electronic Arts notes that the game will generate revenue through advertising and micro-transactions.'

    "E.A.’s most recent experiment with free online games began two years ago in South Korea, the world’s most fervent gaming culture. In 2006, the company introduced a free version of its FIFA soccer game there, and Gerhard Florin, E.A.’s executive vice president for publishing in the Americas and Europe, said it has signed up more than five million Korean users and generates more than $1 million in monthly in-game sales.

    Players can pay not only for decorative items like shoes and jerseys but also for boosts in their players’ speed, agility and accuracy. Mr. Florin said that while most users do not buy anything, a sizable minority ends up spending $15 to $20 a month."
    =====

    The manner in which EA/DICE approached addition of content to BF2 was interesting -- they released one traditional $30 expansion pack, then three $10 "booster" packs. While the boosters allowed one to pick and choose which content he liked most, paying only for that which appealed the greatest, and three $10 purchases over the course of a year or so were easier to justify than a single $30 purchase, the net effect was to split the playerbase. If you happened to have one booster or not another (or all boosters but not the expansion), you would be kicked from the server you were playing in when it switched to a map from a content pack you did not own. Server administrators that wanted to run maps from any of the content additions were forced to shear down their potential base of players as a result, or face a continuously-empty server; many just ran the most booster pack, ignoring all the additional content that came before. Now, two-and-a-half years after the game's release, it seems that almost all remain in the base game.

    Many of the same issues may plague in Battlefield Heroes, if they give the base game away for free but charge for additional content. The problem will only be exacerbated if, moving beyond the granularity of booster packs, individual maps and the like are sold through the promised micro-transactions system. Players will be frustrated when they are kicked because they did not pony up for the latest map; servers will disdain the same content when they are otherwise forced to limit their playerbase, and even shut out members of their own communities. Furthermore, from the sounds of the FIFA quote, it seems like EA quite likes the idea of paying to improve one's playing ability by unlocking superior capabilities. That disturbs the lack of a link between economic bracket and playing skill -- indeed, our very online freedoms -- that I hold so dear.


    =====
    "With Battlefield Heroes, E.A. hopes to bring that basic system of “microtransactions” to Western players, along with increased advertising. Mr. Florin said the licensing agreements around the soccer game prevent E.A. from inserting in-game advertisements from companies that are not already sponsors of FIFA, the international soccer federation. By contrast, E.A. already owns the Battlefield franchise and will be free to insert whatever advertising it wants."
    =====

    The Web is already supported by advertising. I stay sane while surfing only because I block the vast majority of advertisements. Ditto for television -- of the few series I watch, I likely would ignore all if I could not view them devoid of advertisements. When one considers the near-impossibility of blocking in-game advertising, the amount of advertising they are likely to deliver to "monetize" the game in an age already saturated with commercial messages, and the prospect of being forced to view ads even after one has dropped $15 or $20 on additional content ... let me say only that my heart cries out in sorrow.


    =====
    “The existing Battlefield games are fairly deep; you have to be pretty good or you’ll die pretty quick,” Mr. Florin said Friday in a telephone interview from Geneva. “Now we’ve toned down the difficulty, shortened each game session to 10 or 15 minutes and made the visual style more cartoony."
    =====

    Well, gee whiz. Perhaps each game session has been shortened so they can deliver full-screen advertisements between rounds four to six times per hour, just as with television. One of the things I've enjoyed most about Battlefield is the inherent difficulty of the vehicles; planes and helicopters always offered a robust flight model, in comparison to games such as Joint Operations, where flying at several hundred kilometres per hour felt like nothing more than driving a forklift. What difficulty exists in Battlefield (or any multiplayer shooter) comes primarily from the ability of other players; from the quote, it sounds as though the developers have flattened the difficulty curve by drastically simplifying the game, so that a new player stands an easier chance of killing someone who has played the game for years. While I certainly don't enjoy picking up a game months after its release only to face a learning curve of several weeks before I can compete with those who have been playing since its inception, I quite like being one of those veterans in other games -- with strategical depth comes the chance to discover pleasing gameplay subtleties even months after its release, and the opportunity to watch the general community evolve as its collective skill improves.

    It'll be interesting to see how Battlefield Heroes affects the supposed announcement of Battlefield 3 that was coming this month. I imagine it will not occur in order to maximize the mileage of the Battlefield hype train. Bottom line: I'm scared of any novel approach to gaming, and I resent that they're giving us a free installment of a franchise I love. Fuckers.






  • I for one think this is pretty cool. I'm a little disappointed in TF2's limited game modes. I like the art style of TF2 and NO Valve were not the first developers to use it. Remember "No One Lives Forever" and "Battalion Wars?" I think they will differentiate this game with the character customization aspect. Kind of Mii meets TF2. I hope the game is rated E or T and is as cartoony as possible. This doesn't prevent anyone from enjoying TF2. Besides, Dice took the original 'realistic' idea for TF2 and made BF2 a great game. who's to say they won't knock this one out of the parK?