Battlefield Heroes was a 2009 third-person shooter video game developed by DICE initially and further developed by Easy Studios, published by Electronic Arts for Microsoft Windows. Battlefield Heroes was less demanding on computer specifications than the previous games of the series to increase the audience base. In addition, the game matched players of similar levels together for fairer play.
Heroes was the first Battlefield game to be made under Electronic Arts' new "Play 4 Free" model, which saw the game released for free with revenue generated from advertising and micropayments. Advertisements appeared on the website and the 'front-end' of the game although none appeared while playing, while micropayments were able to be made for additional items to customize the appearance of players' avatars or to buy stronger weapons. Furthermore, purchasable Play 4 Free Funds (formerly known as Battlefunds) were usable for redeeming rate boosts to experience points along with other items.
Battlefield Heroes featured a modified conquest mode providing each team 50 lives and eventually one flag at the start of the round. Killing enemies and holding more flags than the opposing army would progressively reduce their number of lives. The game also featured matchmaking, to keep players of the same level together. Developers of the game had talked about levels going as high as 40 or 50, although the level cap never rose higher than 30. The two armies were called the National Army (possessing a red base color flag) and the Royal Army (possessing a blue base color flag). The game was third-person only, but senior producer Ben Cousins had stated if first-person is really wanted, it may have been added in at a later date. Spawn times were 5 seconds (compared to the 15 seconds of previous Battlefield games, except for the map "Midnight Mayhem."), allowing for less waiting and more action. Players did not pick spawn points since the game had an "Intelligent Spawn System" putting players closest to the nearest battle. Sometimes the player would be parachuted behind enemy lines. There was also a new mode called "Conquest V2." The goal of this mode was to take hold of a rocket for 5 minutes.
Like previous Battlefield games Battlefield Heroes had a class system, which had been reduced to three basic classes: the Soldier (a mid speed, mid health mid ranged weaponed medic), Gunner (a heavy weaponed, high health slow class), and Commando (a low health, speedy, snipe and knife specialist). All three classes had their own advantages and disadvantages.
Players could also purchase bandages to regenerate health and wrenches to regenerate vehicle armor points (which were the same as health for out of vehicle players).
There were several vehicles in the game, all patterned after real vehicles of the Second World War. Included were two "light tanks", in the style of the M4 Sherman and the Panzer III/IV. Wheeled Vehicles were also in game, and were patterned after the Kubelwagen and the Willys Jeep. Finally there were four aircraft, two of which were also made to look like the Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the Supermarine Spitfire, and the others were types of helicopters. All vehicles had passenger slots, the tank with passenger space in the turret, the wheeled vehicles held three passengers, the aircraft with a slot on each wing, and the helicopters with slots on each side. All passengers, except the driver, could fire their normal hand-held weapons, and use abilities, from inside the vehicle.
Players could be awarded achievements by a mission system which allowed missions to be completed in order to get valor points.
Players could also buy a currency called "battlefunds" later turned in to "Play for Free Funds" from the main website to buy in-game items such as different guns, ammo, emotes, experience and Valor point boosts, healing bandages, vehicle-repairing wrenches, "boosts" that increase the amount of valor points obtained, or weapons that last either for a period of time, or forever.
On 6 May 2008 the first phase of the game release was an invitation-only closed beta and the invitations were given to professional beta testers only. Following the selection of beta testers, the amount of traffic caused the site to crash for a short time. Once the website was placed back up it was revealed that third-party professional testers would be testing the game, and several open beta phases would begin in the near future. The purpose of these beta phases is to test server capacity as players download the game and whether the servers provided can handle the intense use. The current closed beta players are under a non disclosure agreement, disallowing them from releasing information about the beta. On 29 August 2008, hundreds of beta keys were given out at the EA booth at the Penny Arcade Expo on small cards to anyone in attendance. The closed beta ended on 14 November 2008.
DICE stated in a post, that they would be handing out extra closed-beta keys for the first 20 comments on their new posts. This was posted on the official Battlefield Heroes website on 31 July 2008. It was revealed that the first of these posts would be made on 4 August 2008. This caused so many users to be on the Battlefield Heroes website at the same time waiting for a beta key, that it caused the Battlefield Heroes server to crash, delaying the release of the keys until maintenance could be completed. Two days later on 6 August, the method was changed so that users had to solve a riddle to win a beta key (although the first 20 comments were still awarded beta keys on this occasion, since it was not made clear that the format had changed).
On 9 August, the second beta-key riddle was released (being harder, this riddle was available for a longer 5 minutes). Users were told that the riddle would be released at 7 pm, however, there was a degree of confusion over which time-zone was meant (being based in Sweden, DICE used the GMT +1 hour time zone, which was clarified later with the third riddle).
On 27 August 2008, DICE released another set of keys, this time 400 were given out. Another 200 were released on 11 September 2008; these were used up in 22 minutes.
On 29 July 2008, it was announced that Battlefield Heroes will be delayed until some time in the first 4 months of 2009. EA CEO John Riccitiello stated that the company is going "to increase its focus on some of the social networking features."
In January 2009, the Battlefield Heroes Beta Key Signup page was opened with another set of Battlefield: Heroes keys on a "first come, first served" basis. The closed beta has already started, and users may stand in queue for a beta key. On 6 February, it was announced that the Battlefield Heroes Closed Beta Sign-Up had reached over 100,000 in participants. On 10 February 2009, it was announced that the closed beta would be re-opened on 11 February 2009. Many fans incorrectly assumed that thousands of beta keys would be handed out on that day, however, only testers from the first phase of the first phase were able to access the beta on that day. On 16 February 2009, 2000 beta keys were given out to some of the fans who had signed up for the previous stage on QABoss, and an additional 2000 the next day. On 24 February, it was announced that the QABoss beta keys were all handed out and have moved on to those who signed up on the site. Some fans seem to be having problems: there are still those who have signed up on QABoss and did not receive a key. DICE said that either they signed up too late or it was just a simple mistake. On 2 April 2009, DICE sent out 50,000 new beta keys to people who registered for the beta. On 25 June 2009, Battlefield Heroes was moved to open beta allowing anyone who missed out on a beta key to play the game. Anyone can register and play Battlefield Heroes, without any form of beta key from the Open beta, to today's release.
While Battlefield Heroes still followed the "free to play" business model, changes in late 2009 altered the balance between free and paying users. On 30 November 2009, Electronic Arts altered the price structure in the game's online store, raising the cost of most items bought via free-to-acquire 'Valor Points'. At the same time, EA lowered the price of the majority of items available to buy with Play4Free Funds, an in-game currency that must be purchased with real money. Ars Technica wrote about the recent update,
"...this update has a very real chance of ending the game. Now EA has forced gamers to make a choice between three options: quit, start playing for hours a day, or get out their wallets."
However, following the update, official Electronics Arts representatives have claimed that the negative impact to the audience size is minimal.
The referral scheme was introduced on 14 April 2010. By referring friends on Facebook or via a web-link the referral and the referrer would gain 1350 Valor Points and an extra 1 day XP Boost. If the referral buys 2800 or more Play 4 Free Funds within 60 days, the referrer gains 700 Play 4 Free Funds and the referee gains another 1000 Valor Points.
The history of changes in Battlefield Heroes model in selling gameplay advantages was discussed in extensive detail by the former General Manager of EAsy Ben Cousins in a presentation entitled, "Paying to Win? Battlefield Heroes, virtual goods, and selling gameplay advantages".
On 26 June 2011, hacker group LulzSec announced that they were able to hack into Battlefield Heroes and steal screen names and MD5-hashed passwords of over 550,000 beta users. According to staff, no emails, account history, credit card numbers or payment methods were compromised. As a result of this security breach, Battlefield Heroes was taken offline pending further investigation. Play services were resumed and Battlefield Heroes website went back online after being down for one day after the breach. The investigation into the security breach has ended. As for the stolen accounts, no personal or financial data was compromised, only screen names and encrypted passwords were taken by the hackers, all accounts were restored and were set to get their passwords changed for security reasons.
On 15 April 2015, Easy Studios announced that on 14 July 2015 they would be closing Battlefield Heroes and turning off services for the game. Battlefield Play4Free, Need for Speed: World, and FIFA World were due to be closed on the same day. The decision was not reversed and the game ended on the anticipated date.
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