Those who were around and playing video games during the 70’s and 80’s era remember the simple yet addicting games like Pac-Man, Pong, Donkey Kong, Zelda, and Super Mario Bros. Back then, games were very difficult, but very fun, especially when playing with a friend. Between the Atari days up to the Playstation 2, Xbox and GameCube, when you purchased a game, you got the full game with no need to purchase add-ons. Those were the good old days.
But during the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 era, pricing for games have changed. A majority of games now have downloadable (DLC) add-ons you can purchase, meaning you don’t get the full experience unless you pay extra. Thankfully the $10 Online Pass was ditched in the previous generation, only to be replaced by the micro-transaction system. With many games containing several DLC add-ons, developers allow gamers to get them all in a bundle at a discount through purchasing a season pass, usually priced between $40-$50 dollars.
You can easily be paying over $100 for a single game, which can really put a hurt on a your wallet if you’re buying more than one game. To be honest, often times season passes hold little to no value to the consumer. Here are a few reasons why:
The Extra Content Doesn’t Justify the Price
Usually when you purchase a season pass, you may receive around a few hours worth of extra story, a few extra weapons, some extra skins, an exclusive item, and even a few days early access to DLC. This may sound good and all, but in reality it’s not. Developers make it sound good on paper to drive extra revenue. However, the content does little to add to the experience, while the quality of that content is often sub-par compared to the base game.
Season Passes Confuse the Consumer
Often times, you don’t know what you’re really getting from purchasing a season pass. One of the biggest examples is Evolve. The first season pass, already lacking in extra content, didn’t mention (aside from a few hunters and skins) everything that was included, which confused gamers. To make matters worse, the company released a second season pass to try to generate more revenue and keep people playing. That backfired tremendously, and the community died out soon after. It’s moments like this where season passes do more harm than good for the gaming community.
It Fragments the Community
Multiplayer focused games fall prey to this. Friends are not able to play the same maps together because one person doesn’t have the DLC add-ons. Worse, when online communities die down, it becomes a chore to find a match in the DLC content because a majority of players never bought the add-ons, so you’re stuck playing the regular maps. This is unfair for consumers who have no idea how well developers will support their game, and how healthy the playerbase will be in the coming months or years.
Replace Season Passes With Expansions
Gaming companies need to take a page out of PC’s book. Several computer games throughout the years have had expansion packs released, which provides a lot more depth to the base game, and several more hours of pure enjoyment. Gamers already spent $60 to support a creative project, why not offer truly compelling content in the form of expansions? It’s better to add 15-20 hours worth of story that extends the core story in a great way, while adding new characters, several new weapons, and more gameplay mechanics than just a few extra missions and skins. This in turn will keep players playing, and increase profits.
Offer Free Updates and Long-Term Support
This system is effective mainly for multiplayer games. Games like Overwatch and Rainbow Six Siege have implemented this system well, which is why their online communities are actually growing and are very healthy. By offering new maps, characters, weapons, an overhaul on their game’s online infrastructure, while fixing technical issues, these games are better than when they were released. So when making a game, make it catered to a niche market, offer a post launch release plan, be prepared to troubleshoot issues, and then execute.