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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 3 of 5 Next

There's a lot of business reasons to do this title, but it also gives off that feeling of enthusiasm. You know what I mean? I have the feeling that the developers are not disappointed to be working on it.

BC: We make a lot of really awesome titles in our studio, but I think Battlefield Heroes is the most popular team to work on. Because we're working with tried and tested technology, we have a kind-of "anything goes" feel, we've got this fun, cartoony art style.

And this is, you know, we've gone out there and announced as part of EA's new play-for-free strategy, but this is an idea that originated in DICE, and all the guys on the team -- myself included -- really believe in it. We're not out there to screw people; we're out there to create something which is fun and free, and blows things wide open for a new consumer.

One thing that Min Kim also said, to refer to his words again -- I mean, on one hand it's kind of cheesy to keep referring to things he said, on the other hand, Nexon is industry-leading.

BC: He's the dude. Yeah.

Nexon's games don't attract the same people that play other MMOs. He said one misconception is that people expect that Nexon's sharing an audience with WoW, but really it has a whole different audience, and the games attract different people. And that seems to be the same with your game. I mean in terms of the gameplay -- the fact that one sniper round is not going to hit you in the head and kill you, as you mentioned. Can you talk about that?

BC: Yeah. We kind of see ourselves as an opportunity for Battlefield. And I've been a Battlefield fan since before they were called Battlefield games. DICE, before they were DICE, made a game called Codename Eagle, which I used to love back in 1999.

And I saw in that great potential for a mainstream game. And there's just something so fun and so easy about jumping in and out of vehicles, shooting your gun, and just the free-form sandbox nature of the game.

So yeah, we are targeting a new demographic, I think, and one of the key new demographics is going to be younger guys who maybe can't afford the high-end PC, they can't afford an Xbox 360, but they want to be playing a game that's kind of like what their big brother plays.

Or maybe they've got a laptop for school, and it's kind of low system spec. So we want to try to engage an audience that is frustrated because they don't have access to gaming the same way that the rest of us do.

Well, it's funny, because -- I'll do this again -- I was at Austin GDC, and Raph Koster said that consoles are a niche market.

BC: Yeah. Absolutely. I mean, I love Raph, and I'm always inspired when I hear him speak. He really comes out of left field, but if you follow what he's talking about, what he predicts kind of tends to come true a couple of years later.

And I think he's absolutely right. If you look at the amount of PCs that are out there, we're talking hundreds and hundreds of millions; if you look at the amount of PS3s and 360s, we're talking tens of millions, barely. So, absolutely, people think that the PC is dying, but that's a crazy idea.

It's not dying, it's changing. What I think is dying -- and I'll be brutally honest about it -- is I think that sixty dollar packaged software on the PC is dying, and I think that non-connected experiences on the PC are dying, and I think that if people want the single player experience in this generation they're going to -- you know, they sold, you know, 7 million copies of Call of Duty 4, but they sold 250,000 of them on PC. Not a huge percentage; not like in the past.

BC: I think we're going to continue to see high-end packaged good games on the PC. But I think they're going to, as you say, have an element of connectivity; they're going to have an element of persistence which you need to be connected online to do; and they're going to be, probably, more multiplayer focused.

So I think that the Battlefield franchise is well placed, not only to continue in this more casual market, with Battlefield Heroes, but as we continue our more traditional line of Battlefield games, we're going to continue to do the same kind of game, and the same kind of service as we have done in the past.

One thing that's also very striking about it is the aesthetic. Not just the character aesthetic, but the big anime blue sky, clouds, and flowers. That contrasts wildly with Battlefield's traditional look.

BC: Yeah, and we deliberately contrasted with ourself, because we've got two very successful games out there -- there are still hundreds of thousands of people out there playing BF2 and Battlefield 2142, and we didn't want to confuse them by creating yet another realistic-looking game.

And also, our art director is kind of frustrated by this gritty, realistic fashion. And if you look at the success of the Wii, for example, there's definitely a market, a frustrated market, that want a more fun experience. They don't want to be crawling around in mud for their entertainment.


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