EA Explains Pay-To-Play Weapons in ‘Battlefield: Bad Company’

The beta for Electronic Arts’s “Battlefield: Bad Company” on Xbox 360 doesn’t start until tomorrow, but controversy hit last week when users discovered weapons that must be purchased over the Xbox Live Marketplace.

The weapons were discovered in a menu detailing the game’s unlockables, each one padlocked with a note asking players to “buy this weapon on Xbox LIVE marketplace.”

Multiplayer contacted Electronic Arts for an explanation, which they provided this morning. At launch, there will be ten weapons available through XBL or PlayStation Network that aren’t in the box.

Before you panic: five will be free. Five retailers offer an “exclusive” pre-order weapon in the months to come. Each of those weapons will become available at launch for free.

Another five, however, will not.

These five will be exclusively bundled with a to-be-announced “Gold Edition” of “Battlefield Bad Company.” Think of “Gold Edition” as another term for the many “Limited Edition” versions of games we’ve seen recently. These weapons are readily unlocked for gamers who purchase the Gold Edition, but everyone else will need to pay.

No prices for any of the purchasable weapons are listed in the beta.

EA told us the pay-to-play weapons will not unbalance the game. “All weapons are balanced for gameplay,” said a spokesperson in an e-mailed statement. “More weapons offer players more choices but do not create an advantage/disadvantage for players who do not opt to buy new item.”

The company refers to weapons already in the box as “core weapons.”

Readers, how does EA’s plan strike you?

Have a hot tip? Is there a topic that Multiplayer should be covering and isn’t? Maybe paying for weapons doesn’t bother you a bit. Drop me an e-mail.