E3 2012: EA reveals Battlefield 3 Premium, available now

Taking a page from Activision’s playbook, EA has announced a new option for Battlefield 3 fans that offers a whole host of extra, exclusive content. The caveat? Interested players will have to shell out $49.99.

First, the good news: Battlefield 3 Premium offers players exclusive in-game items, heightened levels of customization, new gameplay modes, and early access to the game’s upcoming DLC expansions. So early in fact that PlayStation 3 owners willing to drop the extra $50 can get access to the “Close Quarters” expansion right this very minute. According to EA, Xbox 360 and PC gamers who enroll in BF3 Premium will be able to play the new maps next week.

As for the future, Premium will allow players to download the “Armored Kill” DLC pack this September, the “Aftermath” pack in December, and the “Endgame” addition (which adds motorcycles to the game’s surprisingly large roster of vehicles) come March 2013. There is currently no word on whether any of these three DLC packs will see short-lived exclusivity deals on any particular platform, but it seems likely.

As mentioned above, Battlefield 3 Premium should seem awfully familiar to fans of shooting ambiguously ethnic bad guys in the face since it’s a rough clone of Activision’s Call of Duty Elite program. There are a few key differences between the two services though: for instance Call of Duty Elite is far more focused on offering social networking options to players, whereas Battlefield 3 Premium seems geared more toward offering fans extra content. Likewise, Battlefield 3 Premium can be had for a single, up-front cash outlay, whereas Call of Duty Elite requires ongoing subscription fees.

Given the fan outcry when Call of Duty Elite was revealed however, it’s not exactly clear how Battlefield 3 owners will react to the game’s new Premium option. Nobody enjoys spending extra cash, so hopefully DICE and EA can offer enough tantalizing extra content, quickly, to convince users of the service’s value.

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