Edited by Christoph Beat Graber and Mira Burri-Nenova
Chapter 9: Advertising in Digital Games and Cultural Diversity: An EC Media Law Enquiry
Thomas Steiner* INTRODUCTION Electronic Arts (EA) is preparing to release the online game Battlefield Heroes. The game is a new episode in EA’s successful Battlefield series. Players navigate cartoon-style soldiers through a virtual battlefield and shoot down whatever it takes to get to the next level of gameplay. The download of and registration for Battlefield Heroes will be free of charge.1 And while other PC-based online games such as the massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) World of Warcraft charge a monthly subscription fee, Battlefield Heroes does not. Advertising and micro-payments should generate revenue.2 With Battlefield Heroes, EA departs from its traditional business model for digital games that has chiefly relied on revenue from retail sales. The giant American digital games publisher intends to diversify its product line. By giving the game away for free, EA is seeking to lower the entry barrier for occasional gamers. Battlefield Heroes should appeal to a broad audience beyond the hard-core players who prefer complex games for which they have to purchase a software client that costs 50 or more euros.3 The business model that combines a basic system of micro-transactions with increased advertising is not entirely new to EA. The games publisher has successfully applied the model in the Asian market. In 2006, EA introduced FIFA Online, a free-to-play version of its FIFA football game, in South Korea. * The author would like to thank Mira Burri-Nenova, Christoph Beat Graber and Vaios Karavas for helpful comments on earlier drafts of this chapter. 1 See...
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