Electronic arts (EA) the largest gaming company in the US, is set to change its strategy for marketing video games. They intend to launch a new version of the popular PC game Battlefield Heroes in the summer, but this version will not be on sale in any of the stores. It will be launched online and will be a free service.
EA hope to commercialise this game through advertising and micro payments. This is the first attempt by a major PC / PS2 / Xbox games retailer to make forays into the world of wholly ad-funded revenue generation in the West. This is probably also an attempt from EA to improve its image on Wall Street and make up for losses incurred by the company in 2007 as against the profits shown in 2006.
A Fifa game from EA has been available for free in South Korea. This program has fared very well in that test market and is reported to be earning more than $1 million a month through in-game sales.
“Online gaming has a massive audience,” said EA’s Gerhard Florin, 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.”
These are baby steps by the video games industry in the field of digital distribution. It is hoped that this new model will do well and EA may then apply it to several other franchises. Ben Cousins, senior producer at DICE, creators of Battlefield Heroes, told BBC that the idea was to explore new revenue models and make the game more accessible. He expects that 95% of people who play the game will not spend any money on it.
The game will be available for download in the USA and Europe from: