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PC market dying is a "crazy idea"

DICE talks up Battlefield Heroes.

Battlefield Heroes developer DICE believes the suggestion that the PC market is in disarray is "a crazy idea".

Producer Ben Cousins feels there is an "opportunity" for desktop gaming to boom in the same way the NES or PlayStation did, and that we're on the cusp of a "completely global, online connected world".

"If you look at the amount of PCs that are out there, we're talking hundreds and hundreds of millions; if you look at the amount of PS3s and 360s, we're talking tens of millions, barely. So, absolutely, people think that the PC is dying, but that's a crazy idea," Ben Cousins told Gamasutra.

"And that's the web, you know. People like to talk about which platform is more successful, PS3 or Xbox - well, I mean, the real key platform is the web itself. Never mind PC or Mac or whatever runs the web. That's where we're going to see the next revolution in gaming, is with web delivery, and web gameplay."

Cousins hopes his cartoon-inspired and free-to-play take on the Battlefield series will be among the first to capture this audience.

"I honestly think that we are the highest quality game out there, within this sector, and I don't think there's anyone else moving into that sector with that kind of commitment and quality," he added. "I mean, this is a fantastic game, and we're offering it for free, and I don't think anyone else is doing that."

Battlefield Heroes has been designed to run on low-spec machines and will be funded through advertising on the game's website and in the game's menu, but not in the game itself. You will also be able to pay real money for in-game items.

These range from character customisation options like costumes, to "convenience items". These, Cousins explains, are for people who have a hectic life and cannot afford to spend all day playing and levelling up their characters.

Instead, they can fork out on an item that will award double the experience gained for a couple of days, for example, so that they can catch up a little. It's a bit like real-world trading in MMOGs, only not against the rules.

Payment options should be wide, too, with all sorts mentioned such as PayPal, credit cards, broadband bills and SMS messages.

Battlefield Heroes is due out in Q3 2008, and there will be just two maps launching with it and more added over time. Cousins says this is because most people end up playing just one or two maps even when DICE spends weeks making many more, so it is trying it the other way around.

It certainly impressed us when we saw it recently, and you can catch up with our preview, as well as screenshots and videos, over on our Battlefield Heroes gamepage.