Are Season Passes Worth Your Money?
Season Passes have become a common factor amongst many video games in recent years. They often range in price, quality, content and value. But are Season Passes worth your money? I’ve decided to write this article after learning of Batman: Arkham Knight’s Season Pass which in the U.K. costs £32.99 and in the U.S costs $39.99. This is a notable increase in price compared to any other season pass I have bought or seen. The season pass raises questions about the industry, how we consume our media and the nature of downloadable content. In addition, I will be talking about Warner Bros. and Batman: Arkham Knight a lot throughout the article but they are just one example that has been mirrored by many other developers and publishers. Overall, I think gamers should be aware of these season passes and be selective when choosing to lay down hard-earned money for them.
Early Season Pass Announcements
Can it be too soon to announce a season pass? Granted, gamers want to know the details of the content they will be purchasing and will probably want to make their purchasing decision before the game’s release. From a developers’ standpoint, they want to make it clear they will continue to support the game after its release with new or supplemental content. And, of course, the publisher wants to show its investors and those holding all the cash that there is money to be made beyond a game’s initial sales. In general, I don’t mind early season pass announcements because they usually let gamers know ahead of time the particulars of the DLC and they allow the focus and emphasis to be placed on the game on the run up to its release, and rightfully so. Having said that, there is a wrong and a right way to do it.
Take Rocksteady’s Arkham Knight which came under fire for its announcement of a season pass. It was simply not made clear to gamers what they would be getting for their money. Announcing to media a season pass, its price (which I will analyze later) and nothing else comes across as arrogant. It persuades the audience that the publisher thinks you will buy the season pass regardless of its contents. This is a dangerous precedent and to Rocksteady’s credit they came out and gave some details about the season pass, although still not that many. The situation can be difficult for publishers because the contents of the season pass may have not been finalized, bearing in mind most DLC is worked on after the game has been shipped. Like it or not, season passes are here to stay. However, publishers need to be more careful and let us know what we are receiving for our money.
The Cost and Value of Season Passes
I admit, I was a little taken aback by the cost of Arkham Knight’s season pass. It was significantly beyond the price of any other game’s season pass that I can remember. This is coming from a huge Batman fan and a big fan of the Arkham games but even I had to pause at this price. Putting aside the price, season passes can also cost us in a different way. We, as gamers, can lose respect for some of our favourite games if the season pass is full to the brim with cosmetic and vanity items that add little value to the game or if the content is not what we were promised. Nevertheless, it comes down to a case by case basis. Does the purchase justify itself and what value do you place on that item? One gamer may be more than willing to lay down money for more content if they just absolutely love a game but others might be more cautious and save that money for other games.
Keep in mind, that for the price of Arkham Knight’s season pass you could buy several smaller, indie titles and probably earn yourself more hours of entertainment. So how much is too much? That all depends on the content. I am usually more than happy to pay for substantial, meaty content rather than smaller additions. I’d rather pay for an expansion or story content (as I play mostly RPG’s) than a new sword or outfit for my character. This issue is clouded though because it doesn’t apply to everyone, others may be happy to purchase these items. It’s all about what that individual assigns value to.
Here I’d like to bring in the example of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt from developer CD Projeckt Red. The Witcher 3 doesn’t really have a season pass, they call it an expansion pass which is a savvy decision as it removes the negative connotation of the season pass and in total will add 30 hours of gameplay. From the length of the content alone this personally justifies its price of $25 but ultimately we won’t be able to tell until the expansions are released to verify their quality. Traditionally, these lengthier expansions do well with games such as The Elder Scrolls and Fallout which perform exceptionally both critically and commercially. But how can we be absolutely positive about the DLC’s quality? Ahead of time we can’t be sure (which is why it’s normally better to wait until all the content is out) but ultimately it comes down to trust. CD Projeckt Red have earned that trust by creating a fantastic game but also offering incentive. Vanity items such as alternative looks for characters and new armour have been added to the game periodically since its release as well as numerous new quests. These small pieces of content have all been free and many gamers have been pleased at a different attitude towards such content. It’s clear that CD Projeckt RED want to offer us value for money and I suspect many gamers will be more than happy to purchase The Witcher 3’s expansions because of the foundation the developers has created.
Contrast this with Batman: Arkham Knight’s season pass, which still has content to be announced and released but so far has failed to justify its hefty price tag. Its story addition in the Batgirl: A Matter of Family was short and didn’t really offer anything special and the rest of the content has been new skins for characters and the Batmobile, although more story content is on its way. Why are we paying for skins in this game when they are free for the Witcher 3? Why can’t Warner Bros. and Rocksteady release the skins for free, as a gesture of goodwill and a thank you for buying their game? Because we, collectively as gamers, pay for them and therefore justify their existence and cost.
The Future of Season Passes
A large part of me yearns for The Witcher 3’s example to become commonplace amongst all developers and publishers but practically speaking CD Projeckt Red is currently the exception rather than the rule. Season passes are here to stay. That has been apparent for quite some time but as gamers we can aid the situation. We can vote with our wallets. If you think a season pass is too expensive, has too little value or simply seems too good to be true then it probably is and you shouldn’t buy it. No developer or publisher, no matter its pedigree should be exempt from this rule. Some gamers will purchase season passes long before or if they justify their price and that is their prerogative. However, if we want CD Projekt RED’s example to become the norm then we must take action and refuse to buy overpriced or inadequate content. More needs to be done by publishers, developers and gamers alike to ensure season passes are an enjoyable and sustainable part of gaming.
What do you think of season passes? Have you ever regretted purchasing one? Which ones justify their price?
Let me know by commenting below this article. Thanks for reading.