Less than a year ago, EA rolled out their Battlelog online companion service for Battlefield 3 prior to the military FPS’s release, touting the fact that it was free for all enlistees and even using that model to take stabs at Activision’s Call of Duty Elite (which, for an annual $50 premium membership, provides gamers with an intravenous drip of new modes, maps, exclusive web-based content, etc.)
But that was before the two shooters waged war on the sales charts. Since its November debut to coincide with the release of Modern Warfare 3, the industry has watched as Call of Duty Elite has become an absolute gold mine, surpassing 1 million premium subscribers out of the gate and announcing last week that over 2 million were now paying for the service.
If a new report is true, EA has taken notice – and they’re about to join in.
According to a “very reliable source” belonging to Battlefieldo, EA’s June 4th press conference at E3 will see the unveiling of ‘Battlefield Premium,’ a paid-for content service and arguable clone of Call of Duty Elite. If the description provided is any indication, we can expect to see the familiar ‘content drop’ formula with some unique customization and item options sprinkled in:
“Battlefieldâ„¢ Premium will land you a number of content drops with unique in-game items not available anywhere else. First out is the one-of-a-kind Premium knife and black dog tag, plus a set of soldier camos, weapon camos, dog tags and Assignments that will make sure you stand out and get more personalization options.”
For the record, this isn’t the first time a subscription-based content service has been mentioned in the same breath as Battlefield. Back in March, EA’s Patrick Sonderlund hinted that the publisher, along with developer DICE, were planning such a thing with the goal of trouncing Call of Duty Elite.
The expanded detail and specified date now, then, will only bolster many’s suspicion that the service has been under construction for quite some time – perhaps even before Battlefield 3‘s release while Call of Duty Elite served as a barometer for how ripe the market was.
Not to be diluted by the Battlefield Premium rumor, Battefieldo also claims that a fifth Battlefield 3 expansion pack will be released in March of 2013 – a continuation on the the three major DLC packs announced this March and affirmation of DICE’s claim that at least a year of value remains in the Battlefield 3 name.
With so much content still unreleased, a flexible framework is in place to market subscriptions in the form of a “season pass” (a la Gears of War 3 and Uncharted 3) or to roll out an annual plan that continues beyond the determined lifespan of the game. Just as Call of Duty Elite 2.0 is giving Activision’s service a makeover this Fall to accommodate Black Ops II, there’s likely a good reason a “3” wasn’t attached to the “Battlefield Premium” name: whether we like it or not, a new standard of playing and paying for video games and their post-release support could be just beyond the horizon.
Ranters, a Call of Duty Elite-esque subscription service for Battlefield 3 seems all but imminent – how would you react if DICE announced Battlefield Premium at E3? Would you be signing up day one, suppressing it from your consciousness, or looking for another shooter altogether?
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