Australia gamers miss out 'free game' download

Australian gamers to miss out on free online version of Battlefield Heroes

A free online version of the PC game Battlefield Heroes is to be released by Electronic Arts (EA). Supported by adverts and micro payments, the game will be available online later this year, and will not be sold in shops. However, the download will only be offered to North American and European gamers, with no plans to extend the offer to Australasian territories.

An EA spokeperson in Australia remarked; "we definitely aren't getting Battlefield Heroes or (an online) model like that. In terms of Australia, we haven't got a business model that we can comment on."

For Northern territories at least, Battlefield Heroes will mark EA's first major attempt to tap into new sources of ad-driven revenue in Western markets, following the release of a free version of its Fifa game in South Korea, which earned more than US$1 million a month through in-game sales.

According to Ben Cousins, senior producer at Battlefield Heroes' developer Dice, the free download will also attempt to make the game more accessible to casual users, with a less complex interface. "We're removing all barriers to entry and we hope there is broader audience for the title. You will be able to play this game on grandma's laptop", he said.

EA hopes the model of a free game as download that is supported by adverts and micro-payments could be applied to other franchises it owns.

"Online gaming has a massive audience," said EA's Gerhard Florin. "People want to play games in new ways and Battlefield Heroes offers a new distribution model and pricing structure adapted to the evolving way that people play."

Australian gamers, who have previously faced lengthy launch delays for both the XBox 360 and PlayStation 3, are unlikely to be pleased with this apparent snubbing.

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Chris Jager

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