This week, EA announced that they’re ready to potentially nickel-and-dime us to death with Battlefield Heroes, a new PC shooter that’s “free to play.” Oh, except players will have the option to purchase in-game items or abilities (remains up in the air at this point) to presumably dominate over their less spendthrift opponents. Now, we are planning to address this business model on our next podcast, but I wanted get my thoughts down while they’re still fresh in my mind. You’ll undoubtedly be seeing knee-jerk reactions on all of your favorite gaming forums just because up until this point, we’ve (Western gamers) have all associated “micro-transactions” with the infamous horse armor and EA’s own downloadable Godfather cheats. However, if done properly, this kind of customer abuse could be a thing of the past.
Putting items up for sale can break a game. I learned this lesson early on in the 360’s lifespan when Sega released additional guns for its online mech battler Chrome Hounds. The weapons available at the outset were pretty well balanced, but for a small sum, anyone could suddenly shower the map with mortar fire or unleash devastating cannons that easily outclassed anything available on the disc. Since then, I haven’t noticed anything that ruinous, but you can be sure that this was the first thing I thought of when Battlefield Heroes was announced. However, this time, EA is telling us beforehand that we’ll be getting a broken game. We know what to expect, and thus we won’t be screwed in the long run.