Today's GDC panel on Battlefield Heroes
had general manager Ben Cousins rectifying the misconceptions about his studio's first free-to-play Battlefield
game being "practically ruined." Cousins' talk centered around the allegations made by press (originating with his game's own forumgoers) that paid weapons were introduced that allegedly unbalanced the game in favor of players willing to shell out cash.
Rather than panicking and reacting directly to the loudest voices -- and perhaps some overly reactionary press -- Easy Studio instead applied math. The develoeprs noticed that, despite all the negative attention, user numbers weren't dropping. Furthermore, they took the information of their forum members and discovered that, while the average BFH
player would spend around 25 cents per month, forum members were spending -- on average
-- about $22 (dollars!) per month.
Moreover, the actively complaining population only made up about 2 percent of the overall player base. What Cousins' team discovered as a result is that most folks playing the game really didn't care about the introduction of the paid weapons. Cousins likened it to fancy sports equipment -- while it might impart a slight advantage to folks willing to pay, the disparity was made up for by the game's mechanics. User numbers remained consistent and, eventually, the complaints subsided.
Having established what he considers to be this working business model in Heroes
, Cousins is confident in East Studio's next effort, Battlefield Play4Free