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Are ad-supported video games the next big thing?

Battlefield HeroesLast year Electronic Arts released classic strategy game Command & Conquer as a free, ad-supported download. Now the company is going one step further with plans to release a brand spanking new game as a free download (with advertisements, of course). The New York Times reports that the upcoming Battlefield Heroes title will also allow users to spend real money to buy outfits, weapons, and other virtual goods.

The game is due out this summer. But more importantly, it indicates to us that EA, which regularly produces PC and console games that can sell for $50 or more sees the possibility of generating revenue in multiple ways. We doubt they'll stop selling high priced games anytime soon. But if the ad-supported model proves successful, it could expand the gaming market.

Right now, the folks who are willing to spend the money on bleeding edge games (and the bleeding edge computer or video game console that can handle them) are just the tip of the gaming iceberg. There are millions of people who are already playing simple, ad-supported online Flash games like Line Rider or the troubled Scrabulous. If companies with expertise in creating engaging, high quality games like EA are willing to use the same business model, many people who would never dream of dropping $150 to play Rock Band might be interested in downloading a first person shooter, RPG, or strategy game.

Tags: ad-supported, advertising, battlefield-heroes, EA, electronic-arts, news, video-games