At the end of March, EA invited a select number of gamers to participate in an online multiplayer beta for the Xbox 360 version of Battlefield: Bad Company. Shortly after the Xbox Live server opened, gamers discovered that while many weapons would be available out of the box, 10 firearms appeared to be available only as downloadable content or through the purchase of the collector's edition of the game.
A firestorm of controversy followed, with fan site Sarcastic Gamer organizing Battlefield fans into a boycott of sorts due to the downloadable content for the title. EA moved quickly to diffuse some of the complaints, saying that five of the 10 locked weapons will actually be given away as part of a promotional campaign, and as such were incorrectly flagged. However, the publisher also noted that the remaining five would indeed be premium content, available only in the Gold Edition of the game or as downloadable extras purchasable over Xbox Live.
EA's clarification on the issue acted as a gentle breeze on the conflagration, working only to further fan gamers' rage over the issue. Taking heed of the outcry, EA today confirmed for GameSpot that it has scrapped plans to charge extra for the weapons included in the Gold Edition of the game. Instead, those who purchase the Gold Edition will receive the weapons out of the box, while all others will gain access to the weapons by ranking up their online personas to the maximum level.
Karl-Magnus Troedsson, senior producer on Battlefield: Bad Company, laid out the situation for GameSpot in an interview earlier today.
"It all started when the beta came out," said Troedsson. "The beta is a beta. We had some problems with explanation of the weapons that are available or you can see on the unlocking page. We had some weapons that we were planning to release through various marketing programs, but they were actually flagged there like you were supposed to buy these weapons through Xbox Live Marketplace, and that was a misunderstanding between marketing and us the developers. We clarified that in the last statement that went out, but lately there's been a lot going on about the Gold Edition weapons."
"I should pretty much start at the end, we listen a lot to what people say out there. I think that's important to show, because we don't have time to comment on everything, because there's so much noise out there, but DICE is built upon the multiplayer community, and we do listen to what people say out there. When we saw this big uprise about people that really felt it was dissatisfying that some people bought the Gold Edition, those five weapons you couldn't get or that you had to buy if you had the ordinary version of the game, that we just decided that all weapons will be free in the game, and that's how it is now."
"These Gold Edition weapons, we won't give away, you have to do something as a gamer. The Gold Edition guys and girls that actually buy that game will have some time where the weapons are exclusive, because if you don't buy the Gold Edition, you have to earn them. That means you have to rank up all the way to the top rank, which is rank 25, and then you have a massive unlock of five new weapons which are the same that are in the Gold Edition."
When asked whether DICE has any future plans to release weapons as downloadable content, Troedsson commented, "It isn't something we've announced at this point. DICE wants to support the product out there. We won't say that we won't do it, but it's not something that we're planning right now. It all depends on the feedback we get and how much people like the game." An EA representative picked up on Magnus' comment, saying, "There's other content we're looking at after the game releases."
Battlefield: Bad Company will arrive for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on June 23. The standard edition carries a $59.99 price tag, while the Gold Edition--which includes unlocked versions of the five controversial weapons and various behind-the-scenes bonuses--will run for $69.99. For more on the game, check out GameSpot's previous coverage.