Battlefield Bye Bye Bye: EA Closing Four F2P Games

We received a report from the eerie ghost world of EA’s free-to-play MMO drive ’em up Need for Speed World only last week. Its streets lay empty, making the twilight world a spooky haunted house of a city. And then… a car appeared. Oh, how much I’d like to have told young Jack “But Jack, NFSW closed down on this very day three years ago” and watch his jaw drop. But I couldn’t, because it’s only now closing.

EA today announced plans to close four of their free-to-play games: Need for Speed World, FIFA World, Battlefield Play4Free, and Battlefield Heroes.

NFS World was an MMO version of the racing series, like I explained only seven lines ago (are you even paying attention?). FIFA World was a F2P take on FIFA’s multiplayer, and only entered open beta last May – it will never leave it. Battlefield Play4Free was a mix of Battlefield 2 and Battlefield: Bad Company 2. BF Heroes, lastly, was a cartoony third-person take on the FPS series. In short, they weren’t popular enough to keep running – or even finish, in the case of FIFA World.

All four will close in 90 days’ time. Accounts will be wiped, items and progress will be lost, leftover virtual cash will vanish, and no refunds will be given. Such is the peril of ‘games as service’.

EA have closed off new registrations, but current folks can still play. I imagine we’ll see the fascinating phenomenon of old folks drifting back to their former stomping grounds for one last drink/gig/game/fight/sandwich before the megacorp moves in and tears the block to the ground.

Wait, maybe All Hallow’s Eve would’ve been a cooler comparison, because ghosts are cool and spooky and it’d be nicely tie back to the spooky intro well Alice I guess that’s what you get for not thinking things through.

46 Comments

  1. padger says:

    Ah, Heroes. I literally played you a couple of times.

    Farewell.

  2. Barberetti says:

    I checked out NFSW after reading the article last week. Yeah, easy to see why it bombed. I toyed with the idea of earning enough cash for a Mazda MX5 (which was my main car in NFS Underground 2) for all of 5 seconds, then thought fuck it, I may as well dig out my copy of Most Wanted (2005) and blast through that again instead.

  3. Anthile says:

    They died like they lived.

  4. Pich says:

    Remember when people thought that Heroes was going to be serious competition for Team Fortress 2?

    • GameCat says:

      It was a very fun game until EA went into more agressive P2W approach and then flooded the game with countless weapons and items. It was quite overwhelming, especially when you went back after a break.

      • Kollega says:

        Which is exactly what Valve did later on, except that with the Mann Co. crates, TF2 isn’t as much “pay to win” as it is “pay to gamble”. Search your feelings, you know it to be true.

        • Legion23 says:

          I have to agree with that: It killed TF2 for me and I instantly stoped playing CS:GO when they introduced weapon skins. For Valve that system works still, maybe because those are better games than Battlefield Heroes but honestly I think it´s just because people love Valve no matter what they do.

        • Yglorba says:

          I’m not a fan of hats or crates, but comparing them to PtW isn’t really fair; they don’t disrupt gameplay beyond making things sometimes look a bit goofy.

          And the flip side is that they’ve supported TF2’s development long past the point where any other game would have stopped adding new features. Things like the robot-defense mode were added completely free years after the game’s original release, and were paid for by the hat economy. I’m ok with a few goofy hats if it’s going to pay for major rollouts of free gameplay features.

          • Legion23 says:

            It´s just a question of taste: Personally I find the weapon skins in CS:GO just too goofy for the semi-serious police vs terrorists setting and in TF2 people seem to care way too much about hats at some point (see Steam market) and not about the gameplay anymore. But again that´s just how I feel about it. In contrast i liked the skins in Killing Floor or Planetside 2 for example.

      • Warduke says:

        I played the hell outta BF Heroes in the early days and absolutely loved it.. life happened and I took a few months off, when I came back it had turned P2W. What a bummer… Very difficult to want to get into a game when they take that path. That was the end of it for me

  5. montorsi says:

    I’ve never played any of them and maybe they were just barren enough that virtually no one will miss them. Still, gives me some anxiety over the (possibly inevitable?) closure of things like ME3 multiplayer servers. Now that’s some serious fun I like to dip into frequently enough that I’d miss quite a lot if EA pulls the plug.

  6. hamilcarp says:

    Good. That game was awful.

    • April March says:

      I could ask ‘which one’ but I don’t think it’d matter.

    • RQH says:

      I won’t dispute the quality of the games, but I have a hard time saying “good.” I guess, as I’ve worked on a couple of MMOs at this point, I’m keenly aware that there will come a time when the 7+ years of my life I’ve put into these games will just … disappear. Now, I suppose it’s possible that there’s not a single person who worked on these games whose proud of a single thing they did, but I don’t think it’s likely. Even terrible games can have a lot of passion poured into them, and it can simply be that someone’s finest work just didn’t gel with the design or the tech or the business model. I’ll never say “Don’t criticize the game because someone worked hard on it,” but I guess I am saying, “Don’t dance on a game’s grave.”

      • Kaeoschassis says:

        Yeah you’re pretty much saying much more eloquently what I’ve been trying to say for months. Just because a game is utterly awful, doesn’t mean nobody cared about it. It’s not “good”, it’s a shame.

  7. eggy toast says:

    If you buy EA games you know you are in bed with the devil and its your own fault from there on.

    • Doc DarkStar says:

      Erm, these were all free to play games. I don’t think anyone can really complain when a company decides to shut down the servers for a free game that nobody’s playing any more.

      • montorsi says:

        Not to mention it’s a video game publisher, whose crime is sometimes being a dick. We’re not talking high crimes here.

        • Stromko says:

          From a consumer rights standpoint what they’ve done here is significantly worse. With a purely subscription-based game, you pay a set rate for access to the servers on as little as a monthly basis, so even if the servers are shutting down in a few months you can still get your full value from your investment.

          On the other hand if you’ve permanently purchased ‘premium’ items in a game, and that game doesn’t have a long lifespan, then your investment has failed and you’re receiving less value than you probably thought you would.

  8. cylentstorm says:

    LMAO. Good–all of them were of the odorous excrement persuasion to varying degrees. A bare-bones and monetized version of Battlefield 2, a straight-up TF2 clone, a Frankenstein’s monster pieced together from all of the leftover bad ideas from years of NFS, and some sort of soccer (sorry–“football”) game…thing…whatever.

    I’m surprised that they kept them going as long as they have. HHey EA–here’s an idea–why not release more of that back catalog of outdated and past-their-prime games like you’ve done on Origin, but this time make them compltely free–forever, and for everyone. Good for brownie points, if nothing else. Just a thought…that will likely go ignored because it’s on some game blog that corp reps will either never read, or ignore if they do. That’s okay–it isn’t as if they aren’t all available elsewhere for a “discount.” Cheers.

    • alms says:

      That you think BF:H is/was a TF2 clone is quite revealing.

      About the one thing they have in common besides being games with guns is the cartoon-ish look.

      • Kaeoschassis says:

        To be honest the entire comment was pretty “revealing”. Ugh.

  9. Blackcompany says:

    I wonder how much longer EA can afford to keep trying – and failing – to make themselves relevant to gamers beyond Battlefield and Madden? I mean, sure, they have tons of money. But they spend so much on each game – mostly marketing – that the margin for failure has to be slim.

    • cylentstorm says:

      Good question. Good ol’ Economic Articulations should stick to publishing and stay out of the creative process altogether, methinks.

    • wengart says:

      Really though they don’t advertise their F2P games very much, and all of the above are just reusing existing assets.

      I don’t see how EA could be hemorrhaging money over these.

    • DragonOfTime says:

      Well, they also have Bioware. Say what you want about their games, they have been pretty divisive of late, but I don’t think anyone would argue that they’re irrelevant.

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      I’m pretty sure FIFA sells more than Madden tbh. The Sims probably outsells everything else they make. As the guy below pointed out, Bioware games are always anticipated too.

  10. Freud says:

    These games were also free to not play.

  11. Gibster says:

    In all honesty I never heard of them and when I did the immidiete thing that comes to mind is a cash-cow designed to milk the player.

  12. daybreakboy says:

    I have a real soft spot for BF Heroes, as it’s one of the very few multiplayer games I’ve actually been good at (good enough to be the best on my side in a pub, is what I mean).

    Couple of “interesting” things about the game:
    In the beginning the planes were an absolute nightmare to use. They seated three (a pilot and a passenger on each wing), and it was pretty much expected that within 20 seconds of getting on the wing your pilot would crash and kill you all. Not only that, but they were hopelessly underpowered, on both attack and defence, I mean the sniper rifle could take it down in a few shots so yeah just a nightmare. Basically, they were pointless, other than for fast transport. Obviously I spent around 40 hours in the things, and still ended up only just able to get an even k:d ratio (in the original spirit of a WW1 flyboy I refused to use my parachute, so my death was a lot higher than it could have been).

    You could sort-of pay to win at the start (it got worse), but the problem with buying experience points was that they were truly treated as “experience points”, ie, you would now be matched with opponents who had earned their points with actual experience and so could utterly dominate you. And if you were one of the grizzled earned-my-points-the-hard-way veterans there was nothing sweeter than seeing some dolled up rich-boy noob with all the extra decals and facepaint and costumes and etc etc come into your server, and know that you were about to absolutely paste him.

    Ben Cousins from EA did a fascinating presentation on increasing “conversion rates” (ie, converting non-payers to payers) and “ARPU” (average revenue per user) in the game, and the difficulty with finding a way to give the paying players something they actually valued, but not alienate the free players while doing it. An amazing talk, it’s like the devil himself just opened up for a Q&A and was completely honest about how he went about corrupting humanity. Not sure if I can paste links in RPS, but search “ben cousins”, “slideshare”, “paying to win”, you won’t be sorry for long.

    RIP Battlefield Heroes, you were free while I was poor, and you were more fun than studying contract and torts. I still hear that godamn menu music in my dreams…

    • Jade Raven says:

      • SteelPaladin1997 says:

        I remember this talk. He goes on about how pay to win really does drive sales, and how it doesn’t do huge damage to your numbers if you’re careful to obfuscate from people that they’re actually losing to P2W gear. Otherwise, they get supremely pissed.

        It is a fairly satanic discussion of manipulation of your fellow humans.

        • SuicideKing says:

          It is a fairly satanic discussion of manipulation of your fellow humans.

          Summary of EA in general, I guess.

      • daybreakboy says:

        Hahahaha! What manner of hacking is this? Videos in comment boxes! But yes, that’s the one I mean, thank you Jade Raven.

    • alms says:

      Oh my the comment about the music was like someone played some [>] button in my mind and I could hear the theme being whistled on.

  13. Gomisan says:

    Seeing the end of Battlefield Heroes is like hearing news of an old friend. I don’t playa lot of multiplayer games, and even less FPS, but this game had me hooked a few years back. It was possible to be passably good at it and it was just pure fun. Grabbing a plane when you could actually fly the thing was lie a victory in itself, seeing as half the people couldn’t and watching them go to waste time and again was painful.

    The free to play was obviously the worst part, though I’ll admit I didn’t spend a few dollars here and there, and since I was having so much fun it never bothered me to do so. I’ve certainly spent hundreds of dollars on other ‘normal’ games which have then languished unplayed because they were no fun, or seriously flawed.

  14. Darkheart says:

    Never heard of any of these games.

  15. Neurotic says:

    I said in the comments to the PCG article on this news that I’ll be sad to see BF P4F go, and was immediately savaged by somebody for daring to like “pay to win shit!?1!”.

    • Zankman says:

      Just look at the comment section here, it’s ridiculous.

      Talk about people being hateful “sheeple”.

  16. thegooseking says:

    I played NFS: World a couple of months ago, and while I will not miss the horrible, broken mess, I also didn’t have any trouble finding people to play with.

    I’m sure EA have the numbers and all I have is a brief, subjective impression, but the “nobody’s playing it” thing doesn’t match my experience.

  17. peterako1989 says:

    You know what? Good riddance!

  18. Zankman says:

    This is the most laughably immature comment section ever, like, wow.

    “Never heard of these games”, “WTF bad NFS demake”, “WTF who cares about soccer”, “Bad TF2 clone”, “P2W garbage”, “EA sucks”.

    Seriously, this is beyond laughter, actually, it’s more-so sad. As the people on Reddit would say: What a mindless circlejerk.

    Personally, I am sad to see FIFA World go into retirement. I’d love to see it come out of Beta and thrive… But, I guess, EA realized that they can just sell the regular FIFA games for full price *and* nickel-and-dime the consumers with microtransactions via Ultimate Team – no point to have it be a separate F2P game.

    Didn’t help that Origin just can’t seem to take off of the ground.

    • alms says:

      I agree the mix of scathing elitism and fail is sad, but it’s not a circlejerk, given that not every comment is like that. Then again the first half of your comment is not really making it any better, is it?

  19. xfstef says:

    BF Heroes was good. I’ve played quite a bit of it (about 2,3 years ago) and I remember giving it up because of … reasons … I actually forgot why, it might have been P2W bs. I’m sad to see it go. It was a great casual shooter.