EA's DICE has changed the item pricing structure for its free-to-player shooter Battlefield Heroes, reducing the real-money cost of items while making their cost to rent or buy with in-game currency dramatically more expensive.
As Ars Technica explains, all non-cosmetic items in the game, such as improved weapons, were previously available for both BattleFunds (bought with real money) or Valor Points (earned through playtime).
While that's still true, the changes have increased the Valor Point cost of all items and reduced the BattleFund cost of most. Valor Point item rentals have also been shortened from up to a month to just one to three days.
One player, quoted by Ars Technica, calculated that they would have to play 50 matches a day just to afford to keep a powerful weapon using VP. In effect, the choice for players who want to be competitive is now between spending money or submitting to serious grind. Needless to say, it's been a very unpopular move.
The received wisdom in free-to-play gaming is to charge for convenience or cosmetic items, whilst ensuring a level playing-field in terms of game balance between free and paying players. Battlefield Heroes - which boasted two million users in September - has now, in all but technicalities, broken that rule. It will be interesting to see how it fares.