The Sims 4 will be borrowing a page from Battlefield 4's playbook. The game will offer players a Premium membership that provides early access to DLC.
An advertisement for Sims 4 Premium aired during the 20-minute gameplay video released a few days ago. The ad was only shown for a second but that was enough for gamers to notice. You can see it at the 13:26 mark (via Joystiq):
"Save on new packs with early access and exclusive items," reads the description of Sims 4 Premium. "Become a Premium member to get early access to three new packs, with exclusive items. Your Sims can throw a spooky costume party, camp in the great outdoors, and toast to the new year in style."
In other words, Sims 4 Premium is a sort of Season Pass. You're buying these three DLC packs in bulk for a discount, earlier release dates and a few exclusive freebies.
The offer is similar to Battlefield 4's Premium membership, though it sounds less comprehensive. BF4 Premium gave you access to every expansion pack planned for the game, whereas Sims 4 Premium is only promising three of them. It seems likely that the game will get far more than three DLC packs, considering Sims 3's 11 expansion packs and 9 "stuff packs."
A full evaluation of Sims 4 Premium's value is hard to make without knowing the price, though. BF4 Premium promises more to the user but it also has a $50 price tag. The Sims 4's smaller DLC bundle could end up being far cheaper than that.
The Battlefield series has offered Premium packages since Battlefield 3. A substantial amount of gamers have opted for these bundles. For example, BF3 Premium was purchased by over 1.3 million players within nine months of that game's release. It seems inevitable that EA would start selling DLC in bulk for other major franchises as well.
EA hasn't officially announced Sims 4 Premium yet. They're not really in a rush to talk about paid DLC. It's already a sore subject for Sims fans. The company caused some drama earlier in the summer when they announced that pools and toddlers, standard features of past Sims games, wouldn't be available in the base version of Sims 4. The implication is that they'll be introduced after launch as paid DLC.
"The bottom line is that when we sat down and looked at everything we wanted to do for this game, all the new tech we wanted to build into it, the fact was that there would be trade-offs, and these would disappoint some of our fans. Hard pill to swallow, believe me, but delivering on the vision set out for The Sims 4 required focus.
Gamers have since started a petition demanding that pools and toddlers be added to Sims 4 at no additional charge to gamers. It's an uphill battle, though, because EA's made it abundantly clear throughout the years that paid DLC is a big part of their plans for The Sims franchise.