Publisher Acclaim Games announced today that BOTS--its ad-supported online action game for the PC--has entered the open-beta stage of development in North America and Europe, and the company is looking for new players to test and play the game.
BOTS, which is already available in Asia, is the first of several games that are part of a new business model at Acclaim: online games paid for with in-game ads. The games, including BOTSs, are free to play and download, but players can choose to spend money to beef up or customize their characters.
Massive Inc., the in-game-advertising company bought by Microsoft in May, will insert the advertisements, which Acclaim hopes will fuel the development and upkeep of BOTS, a massively multiplayer online fighting game. "The response to the game has been overwhelmingly positive," Acclaim CEO Howard Marks said, "and that includes normal gameplay feedback as well as the reception to our in-game advertising strategy."
The game itself--scheduled for release in the United States in the third quarter of 2006--focuses on the building, upgrading, and fighting of your BOTS characters. Acclaim touts the number of upgradable options of each character as being in the hundreds.
"I've seen our testers prove that this game is about skill and not just level grinding; it's the closest thing around to a virtual sport," said Ken Chan, the game's brand manager.
In March, Acclaim and Massive signed a multiple-year deal, setting the stage for more games ingrained with the publisher's restructered model of business, which has proven successful in Asia but is largely untested elsewhere. 9Dragons, a martial-arts-themed MMORPG set for release in the fourth quarter of 2006, is Acclaim's next game. The company told GameSpot in February that it plans to release a new free-to-play game every three months.
To download and play the open beta, visit the game's Web site.