Why Cash Grabbing Season Passes Can Do One
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. We start with Retro Gamer Editor Darran Jones, who feels that season passes are little more than a cash grab. Next week, we’ll hear the defence for season passes from Play Editor Luke Albigés.
I’ve got a reputation for being rather cynical and miserable in the office. But it’s not my fault – it’s videogames that have made me this way. Once upon a time I was as wide-eyed as the rest of you, amazed by the games industry and astounded by every new game that came out. Of course, back then Space Invaders was cutting edge and Pac-Man still didn’t have a wife, but they were good times, simpler times.
As time wore on, I began to get tired, mainly because I could see that the hobby I loved was becoming a global business and as the businessmen moved in, things started to get a little, well… shit. This happened over a long space of time, but it still happened and it’s led to what we have today: a miserable situation that causes visionaries to move to Kickstarter because publishers are too afraid to take risks.
They’re not afraid to take your money, however, and the season pass is one of the worst examples of this. Now, before we go on I’d like to state that for the record I don’t think all season passes are a bad idea, far from it. But many are, though. The problem is that most people in charge of big companies are businessmen, not gamers and while they might have a great head for business, they’re also idiots. The season pass in its current state exists due to two main reasons: 1) EA decided it had a right to take money from the second hand market and 2) Call Of Duty. Call Of Duty proved that season passes were a viable option and a good way of getting gamers to pay for the same game twice. Of course, if you’re a fan of the franchise then they offer fantastic value for money as you’ll play the game religiously until the next one comes out.
The mistake companies made, however, was thinking that every game could slot into this template and sadly, most games can’t, particularly those that don’t focus on online play. Warner Bros in particular has hit the headlines lately due to the obscene price of its Batman season pass. £33 when I can buy the game for practically the same price? Sod off, Warner, and don’t be greedy. Now it could be that it’s going to be great content, but I bet that along with the reluctantly revealed extra story modes, they’ll be a load of throwaway jib-jobs that won’t add any value to the game whatsoever. Ooh, Batman has a new suit? Oh sod off and give us something of substance.
It’s also worth nothing that some season passes don’t even contain all the extra content that comes out, meaning you’ll be paying even more cash. We’ve seen others that don’t really give you a decent discount, meaning you may as well buy the stuff as it comes out, providing it does all come out. When season passes are done correctly they can build excitement for an old game, but too many of them feel like cynical cash grabs, with the publisher often expecting you to order upfront on blind trust. Well this guy’s eyes are open and it’s going to take a lot more than a render of Batgirl and some hazy information about ‘story elements’ to make me throw away £33 on a whim for Arkham Knight’s season pass. I suggest you wait, you can make a better judgement about whether it’s worth your cash. Who am I kidding? You’ve also pre-ordered it, haven’t you?