18
Feb
08

EA’s next Battlefield game for free

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Video game giant Electronic Arts is about to try something radical: Later this year, the company plans to give away the newest game in its popular Battlefield franchise.

The move marks the first time a company has released a mainstream video game title for free in North America and the move could change forever the way video games are sold.

According to the research firm NPD Group, sales of video games in the U.S. shattered sales records set in 2005, passing $12.5 billion US last year. In Canada, sales of video games hit $1.5 billion, an increase of 56 per cent over 2006, or more than four times what Canadian movie theatres took in at the box office.

EA’s new game, called Battlefield Heroes, will be supported by advertisements that appear onscreen between game levels and in online forums related to the game. It will also offer players the opportunity to pay a small fee – likely between $2 and $5 – for upgrades to their weapons or armour.

“As an organization we felt that this was something that would have mass appeal,” said Tammy Schachter, a spokeswoman for EA. “Traditionally, you buy a game in a store and you put it in your gaming system or computer and you pay $50 or $60 for the game. This is a downloadable, entirely free product based on the Battlefield franchise.”

The market for video games is at an all-time high, but sales of games for PCs are slipping because of piracy and free “casual games” available online.

Handing games out for free, with the intention of making money on in-game ads, could prove to make the video game industry even more profitable.

EA is headquartered in California but it has its largest office, a sprawling 20,000 square-foot facility employing 1,600 people, in Vancouver. It has already tried giving away games in Korea, where the company began offering its popular FIFA Soccer game for free in 2006.

Gerhard Florin, EA’s executive vice-president for publishing in the America’s told the New York Times earlier this month that the game has attracted more than five million players and is making more than $1 million US monthly in sales of ads and extras, such as special virtual cleats and jerseys that players can purchase for their in-game characters.

The company may be on the right track. Results of a survey of 1,500 gamers released earlier this month by RealNetworks – the company that runs the popular online gaming website RealGames – said 90 per cent of gamers said they would be willing to watch advertisements before or after playing a game, or during breaks in play, if it meant they could play the game for free.

There have been three Battlefield titles released to date. In EA’s Battlefield 1942, players assume the role of an Allied soldier fighting Nazis. In Battlefield 2, players take part in a fictitious war set in the present. In Battlefield 2142, players assume the role of infantry in a futuristic war. The franchise has been hugely popular, selling more than 10 million copies.

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2 Responses to “EA’s next Battlefield game for free”


  1. July 13, 2008 at 8:54 pm

    tanks for this game its absolutly nice


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