A quickie with Oskar Burman

Easy Studios, who currently develop the ongoing free-to-play game Battlefield Heroes, just released a major expansion that included nazi robots! Well, the equivalent of ‘nazi’ robots, anyway. We wanted to have a chat with Oskar Burman, General Manager at Easy, about how things are going, and what he thinks about the digitally distributed, free-to-playfuture – is it here or not?

MCV: You’ve just released a new expansion for the game, I assume things are going well for BF Heroes?

OB: BFH is doing great, with lots of players – new and old – enjoying the game. A strong contributing factor to this, is the addition of new content. Because we keep improving, keep adding features, keep on expanding the experience, we get our players to stay with us, month after month, year after year. Looking where Battlefield Heroes is today, and compare it to where it was when we started out, it’s a much, much improved game.

MCV: Is Heroes the success you expected it to be, or even better (or worse)?

OB: When we launched the game almost three years ago, we’d never imagined it’d still be as popular as it is, several years down the line. In fact, it’s more popular today, than during launch, and it shows how sticky our gameplay is, and the importance of running games-like-a-service, constantly improving. Of course, part of the success is the instantly recognizable Battlefield gameplay with a mix of vehicles and on-foot combat, combined with the ever present BF Heroes humor. I mean, which other game has fireproof underpants?

MCV: Now that the game has been around for a while, how would you say the reception of the free-to-play concept has been?

OB: We were one of the first core F2P shooters released in the western market, and early on it was a challenge for our consumers to understand this new model. Over time, it feels like players has seen the advantages of Free-2-Play, and with more and more titles adopting it, starting to appreciate it. The barrier to entry is so much lower when all you have to do is hit our web page and immediately start playing.

MCV: How much do people in general spend on their Heroes experience, or perhaps, how many of your players actually buy stuff for the game versus how many just play for free?

OB: I can’t go into details, but generally these kind of games only has a few percent of the playing population paying, with the rest enjoying the game for free, and it’s very similar to what we see in Battlefield Heroes. What’s important to understand is that we embrace all our players, both free and paying. Both of them are necessary in our ecosystem, and we have to keep on building a game that’s fun for both kind of players, or we will fail.

MCV: Where do you think this free-to-play concept is going in the next couple of years? Will it completely take over the online market, or will we see a new kind of business model evolve in parallel?

OB: Over the last years the pricing model for games has gone through a radical change. Nowadays we have everything from free games such as browser games or Facebook games, to 1$-5$ smart phone games, to $5-$20 digitally distributed PC/Mac games, to $60 console/PC package goods games, to subscription based MMOs. There’s room for all these players in the market, and the flexible pricing is definitely here to stay. To be honest I’m surprised the diversification hasn’t happened earlier. Gamers of 2012 have a significantly increased opportunity to find an experience that fits their wallet.