In Defence Of Season Passes
Every month in Play Magazine, we take a hot topic and look at the arguments for and against. The controversial season pass is the subject of debate this time. Last week Retro Gamer Editor Darran Jones argued that season passes are little more than a cash grab. Play Editor Luke Albigés presents the other side of the argument…
Just as with anything else in life, not getting ripped off is a simple case of knowing what you’re buying. Would you pay up front for a week’s worth of meals from a restaurant you’d never tried before? Of course not. It’s a bit different with a supplier you trust – I’d happily throw money at an Uncharted 4 season pass if Sony announced one, because Naughty Dog hasn’t made a bad game since Jak X – but even then, it’s always going to be something of a gamble. But as I said, the solution couldn’t be simpler. If in doubt, just wait.
Unlike pre-order incentives (which I would find somewhat harder to defend), season passes typically offer the same kind of discount on a bunch of content once everything is available as they do when announced. There’s no need to jump right in at the start unless you’re desperate to get involved with the new content but even then, the Twitch generation has you covered – you can easily check out the streams and impressions of those who are a little more reckless with their wallets before reaching for your own.
In concept, then, I’m absolutely fine with the idea of season passes. For something like Borderlands 2, where I was inevitably going to rinse every last drop of enjoyment I could from the game, I was in day one. And as luck would have it, the quartet of add-ons that made up the pass offered some of the best post-release content I’ve ever seen. There are few series or developers I trust enough to take that plunge, it must be said, and as much as I’ve been enjoying Mortal Kombat X, the season pass just seems a bit steep for me to justify right now. If, in a few months, I’ve enjoyed what I’ve seen of the four new fighters, maybe I’ll bite. Maybe I’ll just grab one or two of the new fighters (as if I’m not buying Predator). We’ll see. There’s literally no reason to rush into this, or any other purchase.
FPS fans undeniably get the best deals when it comes to season passes. With regular content drops that eventually double the amount of content available, a higher price point can be justified. Every new map and mode is going to get rinsed for months, meaning you’re ultimately looking at paying peanuts for every hour of enjoyment you get from the game. Hell, even Destiny can make similar boasts about long-term value – as much as I love it, even I couldn’t spin The Dark Below as a decent amount of content for the price, that didn’t stop me adding a few hundred more hours across three characters. Appearances can be deceptive when it comes to add-on content, so don’t write an expansion off before you really consider what any extra maps and modes may offer in terms of extended gameplay.
I get the distrust for season passes in general, and I’m not going to sit here and claim that dropping an extra £20 at launch on a couple of hours of new stuff is a good idea. It isn’t, obviously. Some genres suit the format better than others. I can’t imagine shelling out for a pass for a solo game unless I heard great things about the additional content but multiplayer games? Price it right, let me know what I’m getting (and what I’m not) and you’ve probably got yourself a sale.