The New York Times is reporting on EA’s announcement for a new dumbed down free to play microtransaction (FTPMT) based version of EA’s wildly successful Battlefield series. In light of recent discussions on FTPMT games, there are some interesting tidbits in the article worth noting.
Players can pay not only for decorative items like shoes and jerseys but also for boosts in their players’ speed, agility and accuracy. Mr. Florin said that while most users do not buy anything, a sizable minority ends up spending $15 to $20 a month.
With Battlefield Heroes, E.A. hopes to bring that basic system of “microtransactions” to Western players, along with increased advertising. Mr. Florin said the licensing agreements around the soccer game prevent E.A. from inserting in-game advertisements from companies that are not already sponsors of FIFA, the international soccer federation. By contrast, E.A. already owns the Battlefield franchise and will be free to insert whatever advertising it wants.
And it continues, quoting EA’s EVP of publishing, Gerhard Florin:
“The existing Battlefield games are fairly deep; you have to be pretty good or you’ll die pretty quick,” Mr. Florin said Friday in a telephone interview from Geneva. “Now we’ve toned down the difficulty, shortened each game session to 10 or 15 minutes and made the visual style more cartoony.”
Hmm. Microtransactions, advertising revenue, dumbed down gameplay, dramatically simplified graphics…. Sounds like all four horsemen of the apocalypse. I have no doubt that it will be successful. Probably wildly so.
I’ve managed to condense my own view on FTPMT games down to two sentences: Microtransaction games are shopping not playing. I want to play, not shop.
Of course the rest of the article gets it wrong and conflates World of Warcraft’s success with that of microtransaction based games and the operating margins of games distributed online, of which it is neither. But hey, its only the New York Times. I’m sure they’re still in awe of Second Life too.