A free online version of the PC game Battlefield Heroes is to be released by Electronic Arts (EA). Supported by adverts and micro payments, the game will be available online later this year, and will not be sold in shops.
It marks EA's first major attempt to tap into new sources of ad-driven revenue in Western markets, following the release of a free version of its Fifa game in South Korea, which earned more than $1m a month through in-game sales.
The adverts will appear on the website and on the 'front-end' of the game. Gamers will be able to buy items that customise their appearance in the world, but will not be able to seek an advantage through buying weapons.
According to Ben Cousins, senior producer at Battlefield Heroes developer Dice, the original game is complex, full of skilled people and needs a high-end PC, however the free version will ensure the game is more accessible.
"We're removing all barriers to entry and we hope there is broader audience for the title. You will be able to play this game on grandma's laptop," he said.
EA hopes the model of a free game as download that is supported by adverts and micro-payments could be applied to other franchises it owns.
"Online gaming has a massive audience," said EA's Gerhard Florin. "People want to play games in new ways and Battlefield Heroes offers a new distribution model and pricing structure adapted to the evolving way that people play."