BFH Price Change Causes Mild Consternation

By Jim Rossignol on December 2nd, 2009 at 4:56 pm.


Oh dear, the price restructuring in Electronic Art’s micropayment-funded FPS, Battlefield Heroes, has delivered some unhappiness to the internet. Players who were previously able to enjoy the high-end weapons without using real money to pay for them are now unable to do so, due to the amount of grind involved in earning enough points. Essentially, people weren’t spending enough money and consequently the points cost of game-earned “Valour Point” items – which include weapons which define your effectiveness on the field – has been increased, while the real-money “BattleFunds” are now a bit cheaper.

So was Battlefield Heroes ever going to work? Should players stop whining and cough up for their super-sniper rifles? Can it be rebalanced in a more amenable and profitable way? It’s hard to see for sure, but it’ll be interesting to see whether the game survives this hiccup and lives to profit another day.

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50 Comments »

  1. Torgen says:

    I had *no* idea this was still live.

  2. Clovis says:

    I think the most important aspect of a game doing well with micro-transactions is that it is actually worth playing, but I’ve heard that this isn’t. Are there any defenders of the game here? The next best thing to good is addicting; see Zynga.

  3. Martin Coxall says:

    I think the devs should immediately start a Steam “Boycott Battlefield Heroes!” group, to ensure its longterm health.

  4. Nameykins says:

    I had no idea this was even out. My last impression of the game was the big “Is it ripping off Team Fortress 2 or not?” debate shortly after the announcement.

  5. Zaphid says:

    It’s not all that bad for a free game, although anyone with a brain has already bought TF2 for like 5$.

    The problem is that they promised to never make stuff that will cost RL money and give you unfair advantage, the money was supposed to be only for cosmetic stuff. My bet? they are only trying to drain excessive in-game money you get for winning and that can be used to rent stuff you normally pay for in cash, even though it’s pretty heavy handed.

    Still, the only stuff I’ve about BFH is that they reached about 1M players and nothing else, I’m sure if there was something to be proud of, they would flaunt it.

    • Stick says:

      “It’s not all that bad for a free game, although anyone with a brain has already bought TF2 for like 5$.”

      Heh. I’m reminded of my stint with the ostensibly Free2Play MMO Shaiya. (I was bored, broke and my vidcard couldn’t handle much at the time.)

      You could play it for free, and it wasn’t bad as such. But I met people who spent oodles of Realbucks on cosmetic tweaks, PvP boosters (urgh), properly über gear (double urgh) and grind-speeder-uppers. Like $50-$100 per month.

      The question I was repeatedly tempted to ask them all was,

      “But… but… for that kind of money, why don’t you get a, well, a real game? Or five.”

      (Yes, Valve – and CCP – may have ruined me for “microtransactions” forever.)

  6. Jon says:

    Frankly, I think part of the problem with Battlefield Heroes was that it just wasn’t a very good game. The luck and difficulty involved in joining the same game as your friends was atrocious, and most of their potential audience had better games to play. As a result, the main selling point became “it’s free”, and when that’s why most of your customers are playing it’s gonna be quite difficult to make a profit of microtransactions.

  7. Squirrelfanatic says:

    Wait, they had consumable items that vanish after use in a FPS? Available for cash? And buyable weapons that are more powerful than those for free and fade away after a certain amount of time? And there are people actually paying for all that imbalance? I am at the same time impressed and saddened.

    Hasn’t any of those persons still playing it heard of a game called “Team Fortress 2″? It’s not expensive, it’s murderous fun, there are efforts to keep it balanced.

  8. Irish Al says:

    Am I allowed to point out that there’s no such word as ‘addicting’ ?

    • Craig L says:

      no http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/addicting – it’s just an Americanism.

    • Clovis says:

      :-p What, did you want “addictive”?
      Yeeeeee-haw!!! We gots all the guns, so we can do wha’ever we want with the English language, no matter what y’all say. pew-pew!

    • Starky says:

      Lets not get all French-protectionism over the English language thanks very much, it’s a bastard language of bastard languages, constantly in a state of flux, constantly evolving. There are no solid rules. The rules that people like to try to enforce are largely made up, and often pointlessly to try and enforce some idea of what is correct. Just have a google over the debate, and books over the apostrophe. The shear volume of rules and clauses a writer is supposed to follow to be correct – all over a punctuation mark that 95% of the time is redundant, serving no functional purpose.

      The only people wanting it to be so are a bunch of sad gits who probably want their English degree to have more meaning than toilet paper (while usually working in the local waterstones) or the people who write books on the “proper” use of the English language – It’s all a big mockery really.

    • Starky says:

      P.S. That was more a general direction rant, than aimed specifically at Irish.

    • Oak says:

      Did an English major beat you up or something?

  9. Daniel Klein says:

    I played the beta a little. Got really excited about the trailer and the silly style of the graphics, but became very discouraged very quickly by the obvious performance difference in guns and the stale gameplay. It does some of the stuff TF2 does, only much worse, and the weapons are different from one another to a degree that a bodyshooting noob can kill me after I place a number of headshots on him. A bit of differentiation, sure, but having players start out with pointy sticks and hanging a carrot-shaped nuke in front of their noses? No thank you. If this game is failing I won’t shed a tear.

  10. Sp4rkR4t says:

    I was enjoying this game as a simplistic shooter and it was fairly well balanced overall but the new update has shattered all that so I doubt I will play it again until the next major update to see if they backtrack or not.

  11. Craig L says:

    While I was probably never going to play it again, now I definitely wont. Maybe if they did something crazy like, oh I dunno, gave it some new content/better maps people would play it more and subsequently pay for stuff. Isn’t that how it was supposed to work?

  12. Keroton says:

    Battlefield Heroes is a very good game…i played quake 3 pro earning money and stuff…bfh is (was) a very good game…great ballance reminded me a lot of cs…no rambo shit stick together and take flags.

    • PHeMoX says:

      What drugs are you on man? BFH is by far the worst game ever released by these developers. Battlefield 1943 comes a close second.

      Its worse than crap and not worth spending ANY money on. Hence why most people just play until it unlocks the higher-grade items/weapons.

      The business scheme of micro-transactions is only going to work in the long run, when people WANT to play the game. No-one should even want to play this Battlefield bastard child.

  13. nill says:

    Yeah, I lost interest in this game as soon as I learned it was going to use micro transitions. I guess this confirms why.

    Also, the game looks ass. :p

  14. Senethro says:

    The prices were too high. It was like $20 a month for a full set of monthly items.

  15. Nezz says:

    Why does everybody call the restricted weapons better than the free ones? Last time I looked, which was a few weeks ago, every bonus came with a drawback, so a gun with a higher rate of fire would have a lower range. The damage always stayed constant between the different versions. That would make the restricted weapons more specialised, but not better, and certainly not “super-weapons”. Am I missing something, or all the whiners talking out of their asses, undisturbed by any knowledge of how the weapon store actually works?

    I get the complaint about the consumables, though. Those aren’t luxury items like most weapons.

    • mujadaddy says:

      Yes, you are mistaken. The “for-pay” weapons (free VP’s or cash BF’s) are better than the free ones.

      Free: rate-of-fire 10, damage 10
      Pay1: rate of fire 20, damage 7
      Pay2: rate of fire 7, damage 20

      That kind of thing. Not outrageously better, but quantitatively better.

  16. Shalrath says:

    We played it at work for about a day or so. We stopped when a ‘bug’ in the code brought down our router. The game was also crap, but that was a close second in problems.

  17. Ginger Yellow says:

    I’d never spend money on it, but I had quite a bit of fun with it back when it was released. The commando class was hilarious.

  18. Turin Turambar says:

    If they want profitability, they should first design a game that is actually fun for more than four days.

  19. Andy says:

    To be honest I’ve read a lot of silly comments about BF Heroes today. I literally don’t understand why people are mentioning TF2, nothing to do with it at all.

    I’ve found BF Heroes quite fun but only because it is a game that my non-hardcore, ancient-laptop owning friends can play with me, and we always have a good laugh. I had no problem with them charging money for clothes etc, they had some good tie-ins with PC Gamer where I managed to get some nice accessories anyway.

    But yes this has kind of ruined the game, it was always possible to pick any weapon you wanted and it only required minimal dedication (eg, about an hours play to have a weapon for a week). Having a gap between the haves and the have nots is exactly what breaks any game so I’m pretty dissapointed.

  20. Dreamhacker says:

    I dont really care for or about anything Dice has made since 2005. All I want is my BF3, as in an untouched version of BF2 with updated graphics. :)

  21. Railick says:

    I want an updated version of Desert Combat which was way better than BF2 IMO but had flawed infantry physics which made it hard to play after getting used to near games where your character felt more attached to the ground if you know what I mean :P
    nothing will ever compare in my gaming mind to a clan match of Desert Combat where I took off in an Apache in Bocage and managed to kill the entire enemy team twice with-in the first few minutes of the match causing our team to win the first round VERY quickly :)
    (Although there was a very interesting paratrooper mission in WW2 Online that comes very close)

    Shadowcat “It hammers at my retinas like an evil woodpecker of pure energy”

    • Batolemaeus says:

      Oh yes, Desert Combat > Bf2. And those two were better than any subsequent release.
      DC was the only game at the time that had player controlled artillery that was absolutely terrifying. Seeing a courtain of missiles aproach your position while you’re trying to defend a flag was just incredible.

      Dice should’ve expanded on that. Bf1942 was incredibly fun while creating a very diverse battlefield. Bf heroes fails on both fronts.

  22. Railick says:

    TF2 would be more fun if they added tanks and planes but only if they had their own levels (instead of somehow being inserted into normal levels) but it really isn’t required. Though it would be cute if they added small single person tanks ala Metal Slug that you can jump in and out of.

    • Lilliput King says:

      “TF2 would be more fun if they added tanks and planes but only if they had their own levels (instead of somehow being inserted into normal levels) but it really isn’t required.”

      God no.

      “Though it would be cute if they added small single person tanks ala Metal Slug that you can jump in and out of.”

      /YES/. Engineer update anyone?

  23. bookwormat says:

    I apologize for linking to IGN, but this article/interview from April contains lots of shiny numbers about BFH.

  24. clive dunn says:

    50p to step in a tank. £1 to get in a plane. Go on, you know you want to!

  25. Scandalon says:

    Yea, wierd, I had completely forgotten about this, and CBA to try… Closest comparison I can think of is the (probably horrible) Combat Arms – free to play, “earn” in-game money for time-limited upgrades, pay real monies for the uber weapons, no challenge, no fun, no point.

    (I’ve played Combat Arms a couple times now just because my 15 year old brother-in-law and his cousin are in love with it…seriously it has problems. You can sneak up behind someone and unload your M16 into their back/neck and still have them turn around and kill you in 1 shot…)

  26. Heliocentric says:

    Knives, Permastealth and tripmines are still free.

    My 20/1 k/d rate can continue. ^_^

  27. Buemba says:

    Between this and Carmack’s comments that they’re reworking the Quake Live business model I wonder if we’ll ever get an online shooter that can run on cosmetic and “convenience” microtransactions alone.

    • Starky says:

      Nope, because only a small percentage of people will open their wallets for cosmetic and convenience (less than 5% I’d wager – of course when you’re blizzard that less than 5% is probably 10s of millions of revenue).

      Gameplay advantage is the only way to go – people (maybe even enough to make a profit on a FTP with a big enough community) will pay for a bigger gun, or better stuff.

      The trick for Devs will be to sell more powerful stuff to those who will pay, without making it crap for the people who never pay a penny – it must be fun for everyone, just slightly more fun for those who pay. Those who don’t pay (I’d wager 90% or more of players) exist to provide entertainment to those who do.

      It’s a tough tightrope to walk, tip one way and no one will pay for your crappy upgrades that are not worth the money. Tip the other and al the free players will quit because it’s not fun to play a game where you exist to be a free frag to those who buy their skill.

  28. RotBot says:

    Some of the guns are better, because their speed-distance combo work better in 90% of situations encountered in the game. Anyway, the update introduces new weapons that are buffed versions of exisiting ones without any tradeoffs, so this argument is irrelevant.

  29. Nemolom says:

    I enjoyed it because it was free and easily accessible. The Commando did feel overpowered, but otherwise it was a nice little mix of ideas. What turned me away from it eventually was the system of adding friends and joining their games. It was a horrible system. I could spend five minutes repeatedly trying to join a game my friend was in, without succeding, eventhough he sat at the desk right next to me.

    If they had made a simple lobby people could at least have been able to chat, cooperate and choose more freely what games and maps to join. Would probably have strengthened and built community. And community built maps would have been another good way of keeping community interested. Yes.

  30. SightseeMC says:

    Well, as a regular player I’ll give some reasons why it’s worth it (and why I paid without bitching). But one point that I reiterate in #4: THE WEAPONS WERE ALWAYS FREE! There was (at least up until this pricing structure, now I am not so sure) NOTHING you could buy to improve your character!

    1. Casual fun. Drop in, play, leave. Everyone mentions TF2 but the problem with TF2 for me is by the time I started playing there were thousands of people at a pretty elite skill level. I’m a good FPS player, but TF2 is somehow a game I cannot play with any decent amount of skill. I don’t mind “losing” but as has been mentioned, a few weeks of being whipping boy at the start can drop a game from your favorites list. TF2 is, however, the FUNNIEST shooter I can think of, and that’s worth a lot.

    2. Vehicles…which TF2 does not have.

    3. Customization. I do in fact, enjoy customizing my characters, which I’ve done ever since Red Baron made me freak out 15 years ago because I could paint my biplane.

    4. Rebalancing. The soldier had wayyyy overpowered grenades; poof, the were gone and very few complaints. The commandos were overpowered in beta and could sneak up for backstabs far too easily; they’ve been nerfed a bit. The rock-paper-scissors effect of the classes has been quite good, IMHO. I have 1 of each character (at least) and each has been fun in it’s own way, including my “anti-sniper gunner” and my “anti-gunner soldier.” And, at least until this new pricing structure THE WEAPONS WERE ALWAYS FREE, no matter what people (who don’t play the game or “played for a day 6 months ago) say!

    5. With a budget it’s only as expensive as an MMO. And while MMOs sell you with new content, it’s essentially new ways to grind the same gameplay. If a game delivers a good time, then I will pay what I feel comfortable paying. For some people, that’s $15 a month for a new dungeon. For me it was roughly the same for XP boosts and a single outfit per puppet.

    I find the game fun and worth it. Your mileage may vary.

    • mujadaddy says:

      I’m a good FPS player, but TF2 is somehow a game I cannot play with any decent amount of skill.

      I’m the exact same way. I bought TF2 when it was $20 US, and…I just could NOT get into it. The crosshairs don’t work right for me. The weapons don’t do damage right to me. I went back to playing Wolf:ET.

      Now THERE’s a game.

  31. C4Cypher says:

    1. Casual fun. Drop in, play, leave. Everyone mentions TF2 but the problem with TF2 for me is by the time I started playing there were thousands of people at a pretty elite skill level. I’m a good FPS player, but TF2 is somehow a game I cannot play with any decent amount of skill. I don’t mind “losing” but as has been mentioned, a few weeks of being whipping boy at the start can drop a game from your favorites list. TF2 is, however, the FUNNIEST shooter I can think of, and that’s worth a lot.

    I find the game fun and worth it. Your mileage may vary.

    I wanted to comment on this, not because I disagree, I do agree with you. The learning curve of TF2 itself is relatively shallow compared to other games like it initially. However, the curve of the player skill that you’ll be going up against can be wildly steep and difficult to judge. I’m a TF2 nut, and I thought BFH was cool, but only played it for the month or so that my other TF2 buddies found it interesting.

    I only really enjoy TF2 because of the player community I belong to. The people I play with aren’t always nice or fair, but enough of them are friends that joining the Vent server or posting on our community forums is just as much a part of the TF2 experience with my buddies as actually playing. TF2 itself would have been a flash in the pan if not for that.

    I try to help and encourage new kids who show up on our server, encourage them to stick around and not get discouraged, partly because I used to be there, but partly because I know my community will die if we scare off the new blood.

    BFH felt different, it was more impersonal. You got matchmade rather than picking a dedi, it was about your own advancement and matchmaking. Joining a friend was difficult, if not impossible. Playing the game with complete strangers can be gratifying and frustrating, but it’s a completely different experience than the community one.

    Aside from the art style, I’d say that It’s not really fair to compare TF2 and BFH because they support vastly different ways of playing people. You can play with your buddies in BFH, and you can go lone wolf in TF2 … but both games seem to lend themselves more easily to going the other way around. To me at least.

    Your milege may vary indeed.

    I think this move was a massively bad one for the BFH community as a hole because it drives a further wedge between those who are willing to pay for it, and those who aren’t.

  32. C4Cypher says:

    Ugh, edit button please … I fail spelling forever.

  33. iQue says:

    IF ONE MORE PERSON COMPARES IT TO TF2 I WILL MURDER YOUUUU

    They are completely different other than somewhat reminiscent settings. Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way….

    …sad to see the game come to this. I didn’t play BFH that much, but I did play never the less and got one character to a decent rank, and one of the greatest things about the game was that paying customers had ZERO advantage over those playing for free. All gone now :(

  34. Thunderkor says:

    I played BFH for quite a while in beta and briefly after it went live. I got very attached to my beta character, but when I realized I could only rent the clothing items that I payed real money for, my interest started to dwindle fast. I could see myself paying real money for a permanent costume piece, but not for one I would have to buy again in a month’s time.

    I think this was probably the opposite of how they should have handled the problem. They may get lucky and find a small niche following of addicts willing to pay for the effective guns, but this will drive away potential new players. It’s the same problem a lot of other “free” MMO shooters have. Combat Arms was mentioned previously, and there are several other similar games that operate in this fashion.

    i don’t really get why people keep comparing BFH to TF2. The art styles are similar and that’s about where it ends. BFH is a lot easier to jump into as a casual player. Actually I pretty much agree with everything SightseeMC had to say.

    I”ve gone back and tried to play again a few times, but without keeping up my character’s signature look, I lost my personal connection to the game, and the fun factor dwindled. This was compounded by the horrible matchmaking system and the fact that I was never able to get beyond the “jump into random matches with random strangers” phase and never consistently play with the same people. C4Cypher had some good points on this with regards to his comments on the importance of community within a game like this.

    PS – I also miss Desert Combat. Sneaking around as Special Ops was soo much fun, and BF2 just didn’t capture the same magic.

  35. neolith says:

    Free to play = pay to win
    For a game like this, that structure HAS to be a gamebreaker. So why play it in the first place…?

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