If you ever want to make an MMO developer mad, and why wouldn't you, keep mentioning World of Warcraft when you're talking to them. It's the big unmentionable, the competition they know they'd have no audience without, but want to pretend doesn't exist. Even the fine folks at EA Mythic, they behind the genuinely comparable Warhammer Online, tend to refer to Blizzard's beast as, "Certain Other Games".
So it's with some surprise that Shacknews discover DICE's Aleksander Grondol is completely fine with people mentioning Team Fortress 2 around their forthcoming Battlefield Heroes...
"If they want to keep comparing it to TF2, I think that's perfectly okay. It's an honor to be compared to a great game like Team Fortress 2, and I think the art style in TF2 is awesome. We're obviously not trying to take anything from TF2 in terms of gameplay. I think once you actually start playing it and see the difference for yourself, then it becomes quite apparent that it's not TF2."
He's not a foolish man. There's no question that their bold, cartoon art styles are similar. And indeed both are online multiplayer, although ultimately very different games. Shying away from the comparison would feed into the notion that they were mimicking Valve's shooter - something EA and DICE are obviously keen to avoid. Saying, "Hell yeah, compare us to that awesome game," seems the smart move. In doing so they're stating, "We're confident that our game will not only withstand the comparison, but stand up in its own right."
I'd like to see some MMO developers follow suit, and say, sure, WoW's great. And indeed Mythic have gone halfway, recently acknowledging how much easier WoW makes their lives. One wonders if others aren't doing so out of the fear of that comparison.
Battlefield Heroes is expected to go into open beta at the end of the summer. You can read much more about it in Shacknews' interview with Grondol.