The whole free-to-play vibe is ingenious: it guarantees you get a tonne of people playing your game from day one, and assuming the gameplay is enough to keep them coming back, you can start enticing them with paid-for, add-on content. The business model is brilliant, and now there are some fresh numbers to prove just how successful EA’s Battlefield Heroes free-to-play experiment has been.
To date, around 1.5 million gamers have created accounts on Battlefield Heroes. According to EA’s marketing people, those are total accounts created. The team split is nearly equal, with 50.4% of players choosing Nationals, and 49.6% siding with Royals.
So there are a bunch of people playing Battlefield Heroes, is that the success criterion? Not entirely. Factor in that, according to EA, on average each player spends $20 on purchasable upgrades and add-ons, and you’re looking at a generated income close to $30 million. Considering the game has been going for less than two months (it officially kicked off on 25 June this year) these figures are impressive. Taking into account what EA themselves admitted (that not every account created is active) could make that $30 million a little inflated. Regardless, for a game that was viewed as an experiment and released with relatively low fanfare and hype, a pile of cash that high is nothing to scoff at.
With this success, you can be sure that in the future certain EA titles will adopt this business model. EA has already mentioned that the Tiger Woods and Need For Speed franchises will incorporate such financial practices, and if a new franchise can create this much money off the model, then it’s going to be interesting to see how much the established franchises can generate as well.
UPDATE (14 August 2009): EA tweeted yesterday afternoon saying that they had been misquoted in the initial dissemination of their stats. They stated that the players who actually spend money on Battlefield Heroes spend $20 on average. They also have no idea what percentage of players are spenders. Therefore, the turnover figure mentioned above is a little inflated… ok it’s hugely inflated. But, the good news about all of this is that the game is generating enough income to keep itself afloat quite happily.