Season Passes are the new hotness, and I’m OK with that

I’ve always been a fan of the subscription model vs cash shops in games. Back in the day this conversation was limited to MMOs, but today basically everything uses some hybrid model, either starting with F2P or a box+shop/dlc. It’s not all bad, or good, but either way its just the way things are now. Rare is the game where you pay once, get everything, and that’s it, as was the case not that long ago.

Payment models have been evolving in recent years too. We started with just subs for games like UO and EQ1. Then F2P came along with cash shops. Now we having mega-titles like PUBG, which has a box cost and a cash shop, and recently a season pass. Most recently, Clash of Clans has announced season passes are coming in April.

A season pass is somewhat like a return to subscriptions, only that if you don’t pay, you don’t loss total access to the game, you just don’t get the additional content on offer. It’s a better solution for players, so long as enough people buy the pass, and the pass doesn’t have to include Pay4Power items in order to sell. So far I’m not away of a game selling a pass that is P4P, but maybe I missed something, and I’m sure at some point someone will do exactly that with a game that is struggling.

Overall I like season passes. You know what you are signing up for, the cost is usually reasonable, and I’d rather support the developers that way than through a more in-your-face cash shop. The pass also removes the feeling of being nickel and dimed like a cash shop does, which may be a purely psychological thing, but FEELING good about a game is an important factor in your overall enjoyment.

I bought the first PUBG season pass when I was playing that game more actively. I’ll be buying the first CoC season pass because I am actively playing that game. Going forward, if a game I’m heavily playing offers a pass, I’m likely to give it a shot. I’d do that today for League of Legends, for example.

For those who might argue against season passes becoming popular, its important to answer the question “how else do you want the devs to get money?” Because they need to be paid, one way or the other. Hunting whales is bad business all around IMO, and there is simply too much money being left on the table with just selling a box. As already mentioned, I find almost all cash shops obnoxious and something that detracts from the game, so I’m not in favor of those. Even the more traditional MMO sub model wouldn’t work for most games. So out of all current options, I like season passes most.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in Clash of Clans, League of Legends, PUBG, Rant, RMT. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Season Passes are the new hotness, and I’m OK with that

  1. Jonneh says:

    I always liked the expansion model, flat payment for x amount of stuff.

    I’m not against the subscription model but it is more like paying for something to be developed whilst having no real say on what it will be.

    I think the expansion model encourages devs to produce content faster as well, subscription model encourages staggering content at the minimum rate to stop people unsubscribing.

  2. For me the issue with the season pass idea has been mostly figuring out what it means in the context of a given game. I don’t mind paying for things, and anything that keeps the cash shop at bay has my attention, but the actual season pass blurs a bit with seasons and expansions and DLC depending on where I look. Of course, asking for clarity in terminology in the gaming industry is a forlorn hope.

  3. Esteban says:

    It really does depend on the game. DLCs, in terms of frequency of release, optionality and quality, vary wildly. As with pre-orders and other pay-in-advance schemes, it helps if a franchise has generated a certain level of confidence in its offerings.

  4. Nogamara says:

    I’ve never bought a season pass (but that’s because I don’t play current games, I guess – only MMOs and older stuff) but for the few I looked at the Season passes seemed kinda pricy. I’d have to check, but wasn’t the Fallout 4 one 30 bucks? and Borderlands 20?

    I mean, sure, it’s less than the full game, but 1/3 or 1/2 of the game price doesn’t really sound “reasonable” for a year? of updates when you just bought the game. Isn’t that technically launch day DLC, just as a prepayment?

    • SynCaine says:

      I bought the Fallout 4 pass, and yea, it was all of the DLC pre-purchased. Ended up being a good deal for me as I played all of the DLC basically as it came out, and enjoyed the major ones. For a price/hrs perspective, it was worth it.

  5. Naithin says:

    I don’t know if it’s an industry term, but I have referred to this sort of pass as ‘Battlepass’ (I think after the Fortnite naming, no clue if the others like PUBG, Elysium etc are calling them the same.)

    Season Pass to me (without further context) still means a sequence of DLCs which you’re pre-ordering. But now Ubisoft has come along with this, ‘All the DLC is free, but a season pass gets you early access to it’ just to muddy the waters.

    I suppose that should only really be a good thing, but then the season pass is still just an expensive as their prior ones and I have to wonder if at least the Div 2 one (first of it’s kind, I think? Possibly The Crew 2 did something similar, but I forget the specifics) that they might’ve been cashing in on ignorance a lot of their fans, those buying bigger packs with season passes incl. because they didn’t realise they would’ve gotten it anyway.

    Of course there is always some responsibility on a consumer to know what they’re buying — but willfully/intentfully trading on it.. Oof.

    • SynCaine says:

      You are correct that in the past, a lot of the ‘season pass’ stuff was basically pre-buying all of the eventual DLC, while a ‘battle pass’ in PUBG/Fort was a shorter-term thing related to bonus fluff. The CoC $5 pass is more a battle pass, yet they called it a season pass. Whats especially dumb about the CoC naming is a ‘season’ lasts for a month, so they should have just called it a monthly pass.

  6. I thought the primary issue with paying for content is that it splits the community. For example the Season Pass players cannot play with the people who haven’t purchased the Season Pass, because the second group doesn’t have access to the content.

    Is that not an issue in these modern Season Pass games?

    • SynCaine says:

      Funny enough we just had this issue with Civ VI. You can’t play multiplayer if you don’t have the same expansions as everyone else.

      Stuff like the battle pass in PUBG doesn’t impact who you can play with though. The CoC season pass won’t either.

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