A cops and criminals themed first person shooter, Battlefield Hardline didn't have the best of starts. The game is meant to be a change from the usual war gameplay that players are used to – and could be a way for EA to set up another spin-off Battlefield series – as DICE works to get the core Battlefield series back on track following the many issues and controversies of Battlefield 4. However, the first beta of the game drew many criticisms as some players said that the multiplayer didn't feel like a Battlefield multiplayer experience, while others said that the game didn't encourage teamwork the way previous Battlefield games had.
But Hardline developer Visceral Games is listening to feedback in order to make their game brilliant; especially as it has so much riding on its shoulders. There was so much pressure on Visceral that they pushed the release date back until March so that they could incorporate player recommendations. Furthermore, additional Battlefield Hardline beta tests are planned (there is one taking place right now) while the team is listening to YouTubers and they have also launched a community feedback program called 'Game Changers'.
So far, the reaction to Visceral's community feedback initiatives has been positive. One of the main issues with Battlefield 4's buggy state was that not just that the bugs made the game unplayable but EA and DICE failed to be transparent about them (which is one of the reasons why shareholders filed a lawsuit). And so if the Hardline dev is trying to right these wrongs, that can be seen as an improvement. But, for all of their efforts, there may be a new Hardline feature on the way that could alienate their fanbase instead.
In a somewhat ironic twist, the news of this new feature comes from the Battlefield Hardline beta itself. As uncovered by videogamer, it seems as though EA and Visceral will be launching a Battlefield Hardline 'Premium' service in the near future. So far, it seems that Premium will be some sort of subscription service that will dole out extra goodies to those who are willing to pay the extra money. The full range of additional bonuses isn't clear but the screenshot taken by the publication suggests that there will be exclusive, wearable patches on offer. The patches appear to be animal themed, including patches for lions, sharks and dinosaurs and "Premium subscribers will find these Patches in Silver and Gold Battlepacks". While it's unconfirmed as to whether or not Hardline will feature microtransactions, it should be noted that Battlepacks are available in Battlefield 4 through microtransactions and natural play, so the upcoming Battlefield game could be following in its footsteps.
Expansion packs are also mentioned in the beta's loading screens. It wouldn't be surprising if they were released – the Battlefield franchise has always released expansion DLC in the past – but it might not sit right with players that Visceral is promoting additional game content before the full release is even out the door. Visceral has promised on multiple occasions that the game will not suffer from Battlefield 4's problems at launch, but if a considerable amount of resources are being taken away from the full game and being put into DLC, this could threaten that.
As Battlefield 3 and Battlefield 4 both had Premium services of their own (these provided access to all of the expansion packs along with extra benefits) it seems incredibly likely that Hardline will get the same treatment, but EA could face resistance from players this time around. Just last week EA laid out plans for how they are going to get more money out of their games on consoles. Calling it 'free to start', the publisher explained that their games on consoles would be free at first but then players would continue with a paid game upgrade and that microtransactions and subscriptions will be included on top. Battlefield Hardline won't be free but this can be seen as the beginning of that strategy – EA CEO Andrew Wilson did say that the company is "actively" looking on how to roll the business model out, so the timing would make sense.
EA is yet to confirm the plans but as Premium is being hinted at in a beta that's so close to launch, it seems unlikely that EA and Visceral will scrap the plans one month before the full release. However, we'll keep you posted on an official announcement.