EA to charge $50 for "Battlefield 3" game service

June 4 Mon Jun 4, 2012 8:00am EDT

June 4 (Reuters) - Video games maker Electronic Arts is introducing a new $50-a-year games service for players of "Battlefield 3" as it aims to boost its online sales and gain ground against bigger rival, Activision Blizzard, which sells the top-selling title "Call of Duty."

Activision unveiled its own games service last year, "Call of Duty Elite Premium", which offers players extra online features for $60 a year. Unlike Activision which charges per month for its service, EA's "Battlefield Premium" is asking players to pay upfront.

Charging for online play is becoming more popular as video game companies want to generate a steady revenue stream separate from sales of $60 discs after launching a big game a few times a year and squeeze as much money as possible out of their hits.

"Battlefield 3" has sold more than 15 million units since it came out last autumn, making it one of the company's fastest selling games. EA, which recently made a big bet on one most expensive games in its history, "Star Wars: The Old Republic", has seen its shares tumble 36 percent since Jan 1. It said it lost 400,000 "Star Wars" players last quarter.

Members who pay the $50 fee will receive special privileges online including the ability to erase their game statistics, as well as special items in games such as dogtags and knives. Gamers who buy the service on their Sony PlayStation 3 console will get to play new parts of the game two weeks earlier than non-members.

EA, which was due to announce the service ahead of the E3 Game Expo in Los Angeles on Monday, has been aggressive about selling more Internet content for its games. It generated $1.2 billion in digital revenue last year and has said its Internet business will help expand its margins this year.

But making fans pay more for games can be a tricky business. Game blogs lit up with criticism when Activision first announced its online program last year.

"When there's a new way to get money out of you to play games there's always a backlash no matter what. They'll say 'why am I paying 50 dollars for this game I already paid 60 dollars for?'," said Ben Gilbert, senior reporter at the games blog Joystiq.

EA Games executive vice president Patrick Soderlund said that despite the ostensibly steep price tag the online service still offered gamers savings since access to content included in the membership package would cost $25 more if it was purchased separately.

Soderlund said the offer would also keep up momentum for the Battlefield franchise which won't have another full game out until at least 2013.

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Comments (5)
6thgear wrote:
First off, I’m a huge Battlefield Fan. I own all the titles for PC. But I don’t enjoy How EA is forcing Battlefield into the Cod of Duty zone. I hate Call of duty, their is a reason why I play Battlefield. But with the current trends of Battlefield Maps. Metro and of course Close quarters we have now entered the run and gun, camp fest zone which is Call of duty. Which to me, is not what Battlefield was. The lose of Commanders, effective Como Rose, Multi layer VOIP, and air drops has made Battlefield 3 a knock off. Not a true successor of Battlefield 2. I personally feel we took a step “backwards” We gave up very advance key aspects, and went for a cool engine.

EA/activision is the Bane of the gaming world. Seeking nothing but more money, well providing sub par products and asking you to dish out money in advance and go on “faith” That the next expansion will be better.

We’re have the patches been? They have been slow to arrive, and when they do, they break just as much as they fix. If we are all gonna pay $50 a year, I expect to see a very LARGE influx of patches and updates. Because we bought a game, and that game has not been properly maintained thanks to EA restricting Dices movements.

Same DICE got bought out, they “where” A amazing company. I can see many staff members leaving soon. I’d give it 6 months – 1 year and Dice will have a split. You can quote me on that when it happens.

Jun 04, 2012 10:56am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Either the author got it all wrong or this article is misleading. NO ONE is charging money on a “per-year” basis. This is not a subscription program for services. NO ONE needs to pay to play Battlefield online. The $60 service for Battlefield is a one time fee for premium services like early access to downloadable content expected to last through the rest of the life of the game, as well having the price of said content included in the price of the service. The only game I know of that has ever charged a subscription to play online is World of Warcraft.

Jun 04, 2012 1:28pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
mpearson wrote:
I am not sure where Reuters is getting $50 a year from. This service, based on everything I have read so far, is a 1 time $50 fee for all 5 map packs for BF3 and some extra perks that provide no in-game advantage.

Reuters may want to verify their facts before writing an article that has a negative tone when the tone is based on fiction.

Jun 04, 2012 1:46pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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