Feeling a bit of sticker shock after watching the standard price of big-name PC games leap up to $60 over night? Well, you're definitely not alone. In fact, you've got at least one friend in a very high place, and he thinks it's high time we put our collective foot down and put a stop to all this bank-breaking nonsense. Oh, but there is one teensy little catch. His solution, you see, involves the dreaded M-word: microtransactions.
Battlefield Heroes, DICE’s “free-to-play” browser-based installment in the Battlefield franchise, has declared war on gamers’ wallets with a recent update. In a nutshell, the update ensures that Valor Points – an earnable in-game currency – get you far less bang for your buck, while all microtransaction-based “Battlefund” price tags have seen a significant reduction.
Whereas before, upping your arsenal on skill alone was a perfectly viable option, now the best weapons are virtually out of you reach unless your outstretched hand contains some cold hard cash. But it can’t be that bad, right? Fans – who’ve officially hit the boiling point on the Outrage-O-Meter – say differently.
"So, 450 VP a day... at a maximum of 7 VP a game, that's 50 games a day. About 4 hours worth of playing," one fan explained. "Now, when you lose a round you can only get 5 VP, making the amount of rounds you need to play each day to keep ONE weapon about 60, which is about 5 hours playtime, every day, for one Uber/Super weapon."
"Now it's impossible for me to play the game for free. I can't even afford the long ranged pistol anymore, let alone bandages. Let me make this clear: now it takes 22 wins for us to earn enough VPs to rent a weapon for a day. If each match is 10 minutes long, that means I'll have to play for 3 hours and a half with a stellar team just to afford the weapon. This is not a casual game. I can't even be a knife + pistol commando anymore," wrote another fan.
To be fair, calling EA’s financial fortunes of late a “disaster” would be charitable, with the publisher ultimately deciding to lay-off 1,500 employees, including Mercenaries developer Pandemic. Our guess? Battlefield Heroes needs to get profitable in a hurry, or else it might be next in line for the chopping block.
We’re sure that, at some point in your life, you saw that part in Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” video where he dances while killing some guy with a friggin’ gun and thought, “Gee whiz, I wish I could be that cool!” Well, you can’t. It’s actually impossible. We checked. However, EA’s free-to-play online shooter Battlefield Heroes may now be your best chance at looking the part with the addition of two Michael Jackson-themed outfits.
If you’re a goodie two-shoes, the aforementioned Smooth Criminal Suit of Ultimate Snazz is up for grabs, and if you play as a bad guy, Jackson’s black suit from – what else – “Bad” is yours for the taking. Both are free for everyone, making this the only situation in which being an ostentatiously dressed Michael Jackson in the middle of a warzone won’t make you stand out. Also, thanks to EA’s charitable action, “Bad” and “Smooth Criminal” will probably be stuck in your head for a decent portion of the rest of your life.
Both outfits are available at the Battlefield Heroes website. We can’t think of anything else to say because “Smooth Criminal” has now taken up permanent (and every loud) residence in our craniums. Comment about… something. Or whatever.
Last week's freeware gaming roundup generated a mixed bag of reactions from the community. Some of you liked the unique perspectives on traditional gameplay offered by the nominees and finalists of the 2008 Independent Games Festival. Others... thought I was crazy. That's okay. I can take the heat. In fact, I welcome the commentary -- one of Maximum PC's community members, Mojosico, offered up a number of titles that he enjoys playing in the article's comments thread. I checked out the games on his list and was pretty pleased with what I saw. If you like traditional run-and-gun gameplay, with a single driving-based game adding a little spice to the freeware mix, I think you'll enjoy this week's gaming roundup.
Consider these titles penance for last week's out-of-the-box batch of gameplay. For the first-person-shooters, third-person-shooters, and racing games I'm checking out this week represent the meat and potatoes of any gamer's plate. If you don't find something you like in this batch of games, you're getting nothing but Tetris variants next week. Just kidding. Let me know what genres or titles you like in the comments, and I'll see if I can't find a way to boost your spirits by +5 in next week's freeware roundup!
Click the jump to check out this week's top titles!