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EA Goes Free-To-Play: Battlefield Heroes' Producer Speaks
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EA Goes Free-To-Play: Battlefield Heroes' Producer Speaks

March 31, 2008 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 5 Next

So, it's interesting -- what I was thinking about is, you talked during your presentation about shipping with two maps, and that implies to me that you're planning to upgrade later -- I mean, obviously, the game is not going to persist on two maps.

BC: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, what we did is, we come to this from two angles. The first one is that in every Battlefield game, we bust our asses making 50 maps, and then within six months of the game being released, everyone's playing two maps. The two best maps. So, we just decided to make just the two best maps, and not the other kind of maps.

And the other reason is because this is a service, not a product. We're going to have ongoing support. The live team for the game are almost as big as the dev team. We want to have people coming back to the game over time, but we also want the community to inform us what type of game they want to play.

So we're launching with an infantry-focused map, and a vehicle-focused map, and if they want to play the infantry-focused map then we will continue to make infantry-focused maps. And, similarly, if they think of this as a vehicle-based game, then we'll make the maps which reinforce that feel. So it's down to the community to define what type of game this is, really.

It's interesting. Min Kim from Nexon has said that when they ship a game, it's probably about 50% of the amount of game that a western publisher might ship, but then they add to it consistently; is that how you're looking at it?

BC: Absolutely, and I think that's a really liberating kind of business model, or development model. Usually, when you're making a western game, you bet all your money on this disc, and you put it into stores, and you cross your fingers that it's going to review well and people are going to buy it.

But what we have an opportunity to do, because it's free, is produce a small amount of content, see what people like, see what people don't like, and then adapt to people's tastes.

When it comes to microtransactions, are you doing them via a card system? Nexon has Nexon Cash and Habbo Hotel has cards -- you can go to Target, in America, and you can buy them. EA's Pogo has a system, too, and I'm assuming you're not crossing over with what Pogo's got in mind.

BC: We're really keen to have any kind of payment system available, and if you look around the world, there are different systems -- it might be cards, or PayPal, or credit cards. It might be on your broadband bill -- that's quite popular in Germany.

Prepaid SMS text messages are really popular in the UK and other parts of Europe. We just want it to be as easy as possible to fill up their wallet and get involved in the game that way. So, yeah, we're open to any type.

I noticed that when you were demoing the website, it had a section for the player's region. Is that a payment issue, or is that a gameplay issue?

BC: We need to know where you are so that we can recognize revenue per territory. That's just to help out the guys in EA Poland, or whatever. Also, we want to quickly put you toward servers where you're probably going to have a better ping.

And the other reason is because we want to localize leader boards. So I'm not just interested in the fact that I'm 250,000, worldwide; maybe I'm the number five guy in my town, or maybe I'm the number five guy in my city.

I'm assuming that this game has a global market target -- but when we say "global," do we say global the way we usually mean it when we're talking about an EA SKU? Which is Western Europe and North America. Or are we talking about really global?

BC: I would love it to be really global, and it's been great meeting the guys from some of the smaller territories in EA, who are very excited about this game, because they have a business which is made difficult by piracy -- and, of course, when you have a free game, there's no piracy problem.

So I'm really excited to be talking to guys from EA Brazil, in Eastern Europe, in India, in China, and really, there's no geographical barriers to this game at all. And I love that idea.


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