I often wonder whether there is any marketable franchise or business model that EA won't eventually incorporate into its workings. If it isn't using its latest Sports game or The Sims spin-off/sequel then some bright spark is deciding that the best way for the Battlefield franchise to compete with what is almost unanimously agreed to be the multiplayer online shooter of 2007, namely Valve's Team Fortress 2, is to swipe the charming cartoony graphics and knock off the price tag.
Yes that's right, Battlefield Heroes is effectively a reworking of the original Battlefield 1942 but with a new cartoony style and adverts. Unlike the advertising in Battlefield 2142, which appeared on billboards in-game, Heroes will be displaying the ads only within the games front-end (i.e. menus and loading screens) and website which should keep their interference with the game to a minimum. Better still, according to developers, Dice, the game will be playable on just about any system so it could make a decent ‘on-the-train' game for those of us subjected to regular public transport use.
As well as adverts EA also plans to allow users to use real life cash to purchase in game items. It does however specify that nothing purchasable by end users will be of a performance enhancing nature; think rainbow hats and stripy trousers rather than bigger guns and body armour. Supposedly this business model has already proved successful in Asia with ad-supported free Fifa version so hopes are high that we Westerners will be similarly interested. Availability is slated for summer 2008, which to me implies that a UK launch should occur sometime between 15:30 and 16:00 on the 20th of August.