EA Backing Away from In-Game Advertisements; Microtransactions More Successful

By Brian Leahy, Dec 22, 2010 4:10pm PST In an interview with Edge Magazine, EA's general manager of free-to-play games Ben Cousins explained that EA isn't "getting much from ad revenue at all. The in-game advertising business hasn't grown as fast as people expected it to."

Battlefield: Heroes, the group's previous game, used both in-game advertising and microtransactions. "We thought we'd do in-game advertising and virtual goods sales, and one of those took off really fast and the other hasn't really taken off at all," said Cousins. "If you think about how fast the virtual goods business has grown in the last year or so, it's been much quicker and become a much more reliable source of revenue."

That isn't to say that in-game advertising or advertising partnerships are a thing of the past for EA. "We did a deal with Dr Pepper for Battlefield Heroes, where if you buy a bottle and scan in the code you get an exclusive outfit. That kind of deep integration will work, I think, but I'm not convinced that we'll have billboards in games and things like that. Maybe those days are over."

Does this mean the end of soft-drink and video card advertisements in warzones? I hope so!

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  • Oh go fuck yourself Cousins. So, in case anyone needs a small little recap:

    Battlefield: Heroes was never all that popular, despite boasting something like a million "active accounts" I would highly doubt that's the case, considering an account is free and you can make as many as you want.

    In the beginning, there were a lot of items in the store available for purchase with Valor Points (the in game currency you earn, more later) and Battlefunds, the stuff you buy with real money. It was good, most of the stuff you got with Battlefunds was cosmetic. Outfits for your character, a parrot to sit on his shoulder, that sort of thing. The only things that really gave you any advantage all were the widgets that let you gain VP and XP faster.

    Somewhere down the line, they got the idea to let people buy items (bandages, instant-heal potions, fire-proof underwear) for Battlefunds. You could still purchase these items for Valor Points. Then came the major store update.

    Basically, prices for items purchased with Valor Points were jacked sky high. Mind you, you can earn a maximum of seven (7) Valor Points per game, if you're just playing and have no more personal missions to do. Then, they added the option to buy large quantities (100 bandages as opposed to 25, for example) with Battlefunds. What this meant was that people who don't use the pay-for currency Battlefunds were left out in the cold. There was almost no way that you could have enough VP income to cover basic items (bandages mostly).

    This wouldn't be a big issue if they let you delete characters...but they don't, because they know you'd do exactly that. Create a character, level him to say, 10, do the missions, collect the VP (which is distributed across all your characters) delete the character, rinse and repeat for a quick and dirty way to make enough VP to survive.

    On top of all of this, there are now items, "super weapons" that are Battlefund purchases only, and give a slightly higher chance to crit. Not in any way game breaking, not even really all that annoying, but it's a road I don't like to see supposedly "free" games go down, offering game altering items for cash only.

    Throughout that change, there was a lot of strife on the forums. A lot of people complained, a lot of people were upset, and EA didn't hear a word of it. They banned forum accounts, censored posts, censored post signatures. All things they're well within their rights to do as owners of a website, but that doesn't make them any less shady.

    I know, this has been quite the wall of text, but after toying with the BF:Play4Free beta for a few days, I can already see it happening. The dev team spend most of their time working on the cash store that no ones really excited for, and I'd be willing to bet that within 6 months of release it'll be just as bad as Heroes. Not to mention the mere mention of Ben Cousins causes my blood pressure to rise. He's pretty much the Kotick of EA, and IMHO he's the only terrible thing left about EA.