THQ has announced that it will launch the free-to-play
online version of its World War II-themed real-time strategy Company of Heroes in the United States. The publisher is trying to translate the immensely successful micro-transaction Asian business model to the Western shores using a widely popular and critically acclaimed RTS.
Company of Heroes Online is roughly the similar to the game that was launched back in 2006, with the exception of having to create an online profile to continuously track multiplayer achievements and stats. The Commander character can be either on the Allied side or on the Axis one. Different types of Commander characters can be chosen, similar to the way different classes are selected in MMORPGs.
Tim Holman, senior producer at Relic
, the game's developer, said that, “In the past, our multiplayer experience was a quick game session that was over as soon as the match was over. With this game, you get an extended experience over time.” Completing an online match nets experience rewards, but also army items and hero units. They can also be bought using the in-game store for real-world money. Relic is promising that this will not imbalance the game, as it will only speed up leveling and not give an unfair advantage to paying customers.
Other good news is that the single-player campaign from the original retail release will be included for free in Company of Heroes Online, making this a very interesting offering. There are already two versions of the game running in China and South Korea, where they have been mildly successful, gathering quite a big following of 250,000 players. THQ is hoping for bigger numbers on the Western markets, as the original release was very successful here and also because the setting is one Europeans and Americans can easily relate to.