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DICE's Grondal Talks Battlefield Heroes 'Experiment'

Speaking to Gamasutra at the San Diego Comic-Con, DICE producer Aleksander Grondol weighed in on the colorful, casual Battlefield Heroes, characterizing the game as "an experiment," and saying comparisons to Team Fortress 2 are "perfectly ok
Speaking to Gamasutra at the San Diego Comic-Con, DICE producer Aleksander Grondol acknowledged that the studio's upcoming free-to-play Battlefield Heroes "is an experiment" involving "a certain amount of risk." Battlefield Heroes, which features highly customizable characters, a web-based launch interface, and gameplay that is more accessible than that of its predecessor, is an unexpected step for the Swedish studio. After all, its base is hardcore FPS gamers, who have scooped up over 10 million Battlefield games to date - but Grondol believes the market exists for a more casual, colorful take on the popular team-based shooter series. "Heroes is an experiment," he said. "It involves a certain amount of risk, the whole project. We don't know right now if it will be a success or not, and I think that shows courage from EA's perspective, that they want to invest money in an experiment like Heroes. That being said, I do believe the market exists, and I do believe Heroes has the potential to become a huge hit within the market." "But we have some challenges in front of us once we go live with the service. We need to keep adding new stuff into the game. We have dedicated people for it, so we're definitely on the right track there. To have this service, and to make it attractive over time, is what's going to make this game profitable. That's where the biggest challenge lies. We know our biggest risk factors, we know what we want to do with them, so we're dealing with that as best we can." Asked whether hardcore FPS players, the base of the 10-million-unit-selling franchise, would be receptive to a less hardcore game that includes optional microtransactions - when the world of PC online shooters has traditionally been a DIY arena with no added fees - Grondal admitted DICE is looking for a broader audience with Heroes. "For that crowd, it might be a bit hard, and that's why we're trying to reach a little wider crowd," he explained. "I think that many people that in the end will be playing Battlefield Heroes won't know about Battlefield Heroes at this point - probably not for a couple of months. Looking at the hardcore people, I think some of them might find Battlefield Heroes interesting, but for some of them it might be too casual - not in a negative way, but...it's a different game. "We're trying to remove the hardcore aspects of the Battlefield, to make it as accessible as possible, to broaden our audience. Maybe in that process we made it less attractive to hardcore. I'm not quite sure yet. But from what I'm seeing in the beta, the hardcore players don't mind anything; they seem perfectly happy about the gameplay. "But it's a tough question. I think you're right about them having a certain amount of pride, and it being hard to penetrate that mindset in the way they play games. It's something we have to work with." Finally, the producer weighed in on the frequently-observed visual similarities to Valve's Team Fortress 2. Though DICE maintains its game was in the works long before Valve's sequel was announced in its current form, comparisons have been understandably inevitable. "It's perfectly okay to compare ourselves to Team Fortress," he said. "It does have a comic book art style, and we do have a comic book art style, but both of them came sort of on their own ends. They announced and showed something before we did, but it was original on two different fronts. The market and the feeling is that you needed something new. "I love Team Fortress' art style. It's an honor to be compared to them" Grondol admitted. "But I feel like even though some people think they're looking alike, once you actually start playing, you see it's very different to Team Fortress." Gamasutra's full interview with DICE producer Aleksander Grondol on Battlefield Heroes will run in the near future.

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