Battlefield Heroes is a fairly unconventional game, especially when measured against other installments in the Battlefield franchise. It's an odd chimeric blend of some of our favorite shooters, with the cartoony style and sense of humor of Team Fortress 2, the character advancement of Call of Duty 4, and the free-ness of America's Army. As such, one couldn't expect the game to be released in a conventional fashion. Were the title gracing store shelves, we'd half expect the discs to come not inside a box, but rather, baked inside of a cake.
Unfortunately for pastry fans, the title will only be available via digital distribution upon its release -- though the term "release" seems to have come under scrutiny from Ben Cousins, executive producer for DICE, Battlefield Heroes' developer. According to him, the title, which is currently in closed beta, is already technically "released", and won't have the "big splash release" one expects from an Electronic Arts title.
Cousins explained that DICE simply plans to increase the size of the closed beta "to the point where every hardcore gamer in the world will probably be able to get a key if they want to," leading up to a time when the game will eventually "sneak out." We've never known a title to be well-served by a surreptitious launch, but we imagine the rules could be different when your game costs bupkis.