One of the most talked about facets of gaming today is the use of Season Passes for big name titles. Wherein the customer can prepay a certain amount of money for all or the currently announced future DLC for a game. Downloadable content is something all gamers have learned to live with over the years as the last generation of consoles became always connected and brought the PC style of patches and after release support to the world of Playstation and XBox. You will still hear gamers talk about how games used to come with those sort of items, whether its cosmetic skins or maps, and that may be true but those days are long gone. Now we have gotten into the times where gamers can pay for all the DLC upfront with a Season Pass, without knowing what that will involve, and as we have learned lately not all season passes seem to bring the values that they charge.
I wanted to write about this as the fervor over the recently announced season pass for Star Wars: Battlefront has been talked about not only through TGR, but through friends, the workplace, and all over the internet and its many gaming related sites. Battlefront’s developer’s DICE announced that the season pass for Battlefront would be $50, with that amount getting you all four planned expansions and access to them a week earlier than a la carte buyers, as well as an exclusive emote. What will be included in those expansions, nobody knows. Battlefront is a multiplayer game only so one could assume that the expansions would include new maps from throughout the movie saga, as well as possibly new Heroes, weapons, emotes, or other cosmetic items. Is that worth $50, and is it worth investing that without knowing exactly what you will get in those four expansions? Only the consumer themselves can say for sure, but let’s look at some of the biggest offenders of the season pass, and the one company most gamers said did it right.
The kind of way that season passes should be handled most gamers agree was with the expansive RPG Witcher 3, and it’s developers CD Projekt Red. Before the game came out, CDR said that they would be releasing all of the game’s DLC for free, as they felt gamers trust them to give them the value in the game that they purchased, and what was added afterwards through DLC was mostly cosmetic items such as new armor or skins, as well as new finishing animations and short side quest missions to complete. When CDR announced they would also have paid DLC after the over 30 free DLC items, they made sure it was to be known as an expansion pack, where the content was added on to the story with over 30 hours of gameplay for the price of $10. Reviews of not just the base game but this first expansion have been stellar, and have been the go to example when people talk about DLC and season passes done right.
The other side to that coin is when season passes are done wrong, either with content or price or a combination of both factors. Again, most gamers would agree that this was unfortunately the case with the season pass of Rocksteady’s finale to their Batman trilogy, Arkham Knight. People were really surprised when it was announced that Arkham Knight’s season pass would run $40, which is more than the usual AAA season pass, especially for an action game or non-FPS. To combat the sticker shock, it was announced that the $40 season pass would get you six months off add on content, but not much of an idea what that would other than the usual skins and a cryptic villian-centric pack. As the months went on, owners of the season pass got more and more frustrated as the DLC continued to be a skin or two for the characters and Batmobile, maybe a new race or AR training, and occasionally a “story pack”. These “story packs” focused on some of the popular side characters of the Batman family but were painfully short and only rehashed a couple fights or predator parts of the main game, and didn’t add much to anything to the overarching story. This was deflected by talk that Rocksteady didn’t develop that DLC and their first foray would be the Nightwing story pack that actually took place after the events of the main game, leading to alot of excitement from season pass owners who thought this may make them more comfortable about their purchase. Sadly, this story pack followed the same pathetically short rehash, with only a couple of lines of dialogue pointing out it happened post- Arkham Knight. The season pass of Arkham Knight has now, over four months in, in my opinion been a total ripoff.
Which brings us back to Star Wars: Battlefront, and it’s $50 season pass. Is that expensive? Absolutely. But it’s the same price as the other big name games in that genre, Call of Duty and DICE’s own Battlefield series. Those games $50 season passes offer usually four expansions as well, which consists of new maps throughout their different modes as well as the occasional weapon additions as well. The difference I can see between these is that Battlefront doesn’t have a single player campaign which tons of people are complaining about. But when it comes to Call of Duty and Battlefield, how many people play the campaign and do they even buy the game for that reason? Those season passes sell a ton, and add a bunch of revenue to their publishers and developers so why wouldn’t there be one for Battlefront? With the no campaign argument, they could have not charged the full $60 for the base game but that would never happen. This is Star Wars. This is Battlefront, the game people have clamored for for years. In the end it’s all about the value to the consumer, and as someone who has waited for this game I have no qualms about paying $50 for the season pass. Let’s just hope it’s more like Witcher 3 than Arkham Knight.