EA’s casual online shooter Battlefield Heroes has been in closed beta for quite some time, and while the game was originally slated for a late 2008 release, it has now been confirmed that instead the beta will be closed down so they can move their focus on “polishing the backend” – their words not mine.

Jokes aside, senior producer James Salt explains that the beta has been of a tremendous help in balancing the gameplay and squashing bugs, but the studio is now entering the next phase of development and wants to concentrate its efforts on the unseen parts of the game, such as making sure the micro-transactions system and community features are all working fine.

The developer plans to get the beta up and running again early next year, with a final release now targeted for the first quarter of 2009. The cartoonish Heroes will be the first title in the Battlefield series released under EA’s new Play 4 Free model, meaning it will be an online-only free-to-play game financed through advertisements and micro-transactions for character customizations.