Although EA has experimented with free to play MMOs in Korea before, Battlefield Heroes, being launched this summer, is its first free to play MMO aimed at a western market. They will be employing a digital goods model to monetize. With EA now joining Sony and other big western game publishers to employ this model, it is starting to look pretty mainstream. Battlefied Heroes will be more casual than previous incarnations in the franchise. NY Times notes about EA’s Korean launch, FIFA:
E.A.’s most recent experiment with free online games began two years ago in South Korea, the world’s most fervent gaming culture. In 2006, the company introduced a free version of its FIFA soccer game there, and Gerhard Florin, E.A.’s executive vice president for publishing in the Americas and Europe, said it has signed up more than five million Korean users and generates more than $1 million in monthly in-game sales.
Players can pay not only for decorative items like shoes and jerseys but also for boosts in their players’ speed, agility and accuracy. Mr. Florin said that while most users do not buy anything, a sizable minority ends up spending $15 to $20 a month.