Three Reasons Why Video Game Season Passes Need to End

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.

Featured Image Source: Activision

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3 Ways How Sony’s Playstation 4 Pro Launch Has Helped Their Brand

I’ve been a gamer since I was five years old. In fact, I’d written a post previously on my passion for video games, as well as a favorite game of mine that I’m playing now. In addition, I’ve been a Playstation fan since Son’y very first system. The reason isn’t only because of the good quality systems they make, but also because of the large variety of first party exclusive games they bring to their loyal customers. They’re passionate about making their fans happy, which is something I admire.

According to a recent post on IGN, Playstation 4 sales have exceeded 60 million. That’s an impressive number. The Playstation 4 is already on par to exceed the lifetime sales of the Playstation 3, which sits at above 83 million within its 10 1/2 year lifecycle. It still has a ways to go to reach the Playstation 2, which has 155 million lifetime sales, but I’m confident they’ll exceed 100 million sales for sure. Although the software is what is mainly benefiting Sony profitability wise, which stands at 487.8 million as of Jun 11th, they are still making money off of the sales of their systems.

That also holds true with their Playstation 4 Pro, which was released back in November 2016, and will have been on the market for a year once Microsoft’s Xbox One X arrives this Fall. So how was Sony’s Playstation 4 Pro launch such a great idea. Here’s a few reasons why:

They Knew That Timing Was Key

With there being a shift into 4K, and with the introduction of VR last year, Sony believed that releasing a gaming system that had the performance to meet the needs of a average consumer (or an existing Playstation 4 owner) that has a 4K TV would mean profitability for them in the long run. 4K TVs have gotten less expensive, and there’s been a demand for better graphics and performance in games.

And although technically Sony’s Playstation 4 Pro doesn’t bring true native 4K at 60 frames per second to every game, a lot of the games that have gotten the graphical update can come close to it. The average consumer will have a hard time telling the difference between upscaled 4K and native 4K, but will still enjoy how games look and play, which is something Sony nailed down.

Them releasing a more powerful iteration of the Playstation 4 has given them a one year head start over Microsoft, and has given them a huge edge in console dominance as a result.

To Maintain a Reasonable Price Point

When the Playstation 3 launched in 2006, it went for a staggering $600 for the 20GB model, which turned off a lot of consumers and directed them to purchase a Xbox 360 or Nintendo Wii instead. But Sony long learned their lesson when they released the first Playstation 4 at $400. It was a very reasonable price for a new console. Sony wanted to make sure to maintain such a price point with the Playstation 4 Pro. And thus, new adapters and existing Playstation 4 owners have purchased the system without so much regard about if it’s worth the price.

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Source: Naughty Dog

Quality Games Over Pure Performance

Sony knew that to maintain the integrity of their brand, while keeping gamers happy, they would have to make a couple of compromises in order to sell the Playstation 4 Pro at a reasonable price to make profits. Thus, for one 4K Blu-Ray DVD playback was excluded, and they went for small processing, graphical, and RAM performance improvements. This was the only way they could sell their new system at $400.

However, no compromises have been made in the gaming sector. Sony has continued to bring the focus on the one thing that keeps consumers happy and loyal to their brand, the games. And this year, they have more games than ever. Sony’s focus to keep their system a gaming machine and not just a very powerful system that can do it all has helped the Playstation 4 Pro to be the system of choice for consumers of all ages and backgrounds.

Conclusion

Sony learned from their mistakes with the Playstation 3, and it shows with their amazing execution with branding and selling the Playstation 4 this generation. From a business and consumer standpoint, them releasing the Playstation 4 Pro during the Fall last year, one year ahead of the upcoming Xbox One X, made a whole lot of since.

I wanted to write this post to give you a perspective on some of the choices you must make when running a business, while being able to offer a product and having good execution with timing, pricing, and whom you’re targeting. Along the way, you have to make some compromises. You’re not going to be able to satisfy everyone. But as long as you make your product and message compelling enough, you’ll build your own loyal customer base.

Featured Image Source: Sony