Why You Should Rethink Buying a Season Pass

Are_Season_Passes_Evil

The trend of Season Passes in the world of gaming is only becoming more standard. If you don’t know what a season pass is, generally, they guarantee access to DLC (Downloadable Content) for whichever game the pass was purchased for. For example, Ubisoft recently released a Watch Dogs DLC that adds 3 missions and a few guns and player customization options. Now, this DLC is selling standalone for $6.99 without the season pass, or players who purchased the season pass for $19.99 get access to the DLC a week early and also get it “free”. Free meaning they don’t have to pay the additional $6.99 because they bought the season pass for $20. The trend of “Season Passes” is definitely something I wouldn’t mind seeing an end to. Here’s why I’m against the concept of a season pass and why you may want to think before you buy.

First of all, the idea of offering a season pass is a relatively new idea. Remember the days when we would buy Halo map packs with Microsoft points? Those were the days. Anyways, back to my point – season passes are bad. Games these days (with the exclusion of indie games) are usually $60. Now, if the season pass for a $60 game sells for $20, that makes the game $80 if you buy both. Don’t get me wrong, $80 is expensive, but it’s not only about the price point. The additional $20 for the season pass is like paying for something before you know what it is with the hope that it will be good. It’s like preordering a game – something I’m not particularly against because it guarantees you a copy and lets you get excited, but it’s still paying for something you know little to nothing about.

Imagine the following situation – you’re an avid gamer who has been excited for Watch Dogs for a long time. Finally, the day comes when you’re able to pick up your copy. You notice that a season pass is available for $20 that will allow you to get all the DLC a whole week early! “What an amazing deal,” you think, “I better pick it up ASAP!” So now, you’re $80 in the hole without actually playing the game yet. When you finally load Watch Dogs up for the first time you hate it. You’re a PC gamer who can’t get over the resolution or FPS or the fact that you have to use UPlay (don’t worry, I have a PC myself). Or you’re a console gamer who just didn’t like the game. Either way, you’ve just spent a lot of money on something you didn’t enjoy.

Despite the fact that you didn’t like Watch Dogs, your $20 could have been used to buy something else enjoyable, like a couple indie games. Your $20 could have bought you something else (like some of the best games of all time such as Fez or Braid), but the hasty decision to buy Watch Dogs DLC prevented that. That’s a major issue with Season Passes – you don’t really know what you’re getting into.

Now don’t get me wrong, Watch Dogs is just one example (to be clear, I absolutely loved Watch Dogs). Many other developers have been including the option to buy a season pass. There are certain types of gamers who can benefit from a season pass too. For instance, if you know the only game you’re going to be playing for the next few months will be Call of Duty, a season pass may be worth looking into. If you’re a gamer who enjoys a lot of different games though, chances are by the time new DLC comes out you’ll have moved on to whatever the next big thing is and you may not be interested in going back to play an old (relatively) game. So before you go and buy a season pass, think about if you’ll even want the DLC later down the road.

  • GotNews4Ya

    Great Viewpoint. Loved the Article.. I have been saying this very thing to myself lately.. man.. I don’t know why I buy those season passes.. and I think I am going to stop.. They have the option to buy the season pass at a later time, even after the first map pack is released.. so if you do opt to buy the first DLC, you can just upgrade to the Season Pass.. So it isn’t all bad..

    I did pre-order the Ghost edition of Destiny, and it comes with the first two map packs.. basically a season pass.. and its estimated at a 30$ value.. the map packs are going to be huge.. and the game is supposed to be supported for a long time. I expect to fully be playing this for a few years.. and possibly picking up Season Pass 2 and 3 as well..

    Dragon Age and the Witcher 3 will also be really good games to grab a season pass for, because those game ALWAYS have great DLC, all the way back to Dragon Age: Origins and its amazing Awakening DLC on the Xbox 360 / PS3.

    I wonder though.. how often you are going to run across the situation where you bought a season pass.. i.e. Infamous: Second Son, and then.. they release Infamous: First Light later, and it should be DLC, but its announced as.. “Stand Alone DLC”. Now.. I don’t know the answer to this, but for some reason, I feel like the added words.. “Stand Alone” is a double edge sword.. as you might not need Infamous: Second Son anymore to play it and could have traded it in to gamestop for some quick cash for a new title.. and now you can play the DLC without the disc, but what I don’t know is.. Does it count towards your Season Pass? Or do you get shafted into having to purchase it after all?

    I would love for someone to let me know, I could just be too skeptical.. but It would be a good thing to know that when you buy the Season Pass, that the Developers can’t screw you out of more money, by announcing something as “Stand Alone” and making you pay for it again..

    • http://www.gamersheroes.com/ Captain Camper

      You bring up some very interesting concerns in your comment :D

      I’ve spent the last 20 minutes racking my brain trying to remember a game that sold a Season Pass and later, Stand Alone DLC, but I honestly cannot think of any.

      Generally I think the games that do utilize Season Passes are mostly planning smaller, more frequent updates/DLC as opposed to the lengthy gaps between larger, more substantial content updates.

      I purchased the Season Pass for The Last of Us, and have regretted it ever since. I loved the game, actually gave it one of my highest ratings since I started writing reviews, but I did not feel the experience could be lived twice. As such I quickly sold my copy after completing it, leaving the Season Pass to rot away somewhere and never be redeemed :D

      I tend to stay away from the whole Season Pass element. It would be nice if they at least provided some very basic details ahead of the purchase. Something like “Minimum of 10 hours of new gameplay, 3 new playable characters and 10 new maps” etc. So at least people would get a feel of the contents of future DLC.

      As an example. I played Call of Duty: Ghosts for a short period. I am not a fan of the single player campaign or Infestation modes so any DLC included in the Season Pass for those specific modes are useless to me, but that could equate to a large portion – if not all – of the cost of the Season Pass.

      As with many elements of the industry, I think we need more transparency in the entire process :D

      Thanks for your well thought-out comment GotNews4Ya :D

      • GotNews4Ya

        Anytime, I am a video game enthusiast, and I read a lot of articles and tend to post on plenty of them. I respect everyone’s opinion, and I am not afraid to discuss any topic on any system.

        You bring a great idea to the table, they need to implement some sort of requirement for them to have a DLC Pass.. For instance.. Ryse: Son of Rome has a Season Pass.. All they gave out was new armors for the character. I mean really? I would have been furious if I had purchased that. I figured they might announce some new missions, or side story.. SOMETHING, but nah.. That’s why I am afraid to purchase any of them.. I recently bought the Titanfall Season Pass, because it made sense.. I liked the game, and while it didn’t have me addicted, for awhile it was the only multiplayer game worth playing. Yeah, eventually I got bored with it.. and I haven’t really gotten back into it, but every time new DLC is released, I jump back on for a bit.

        The next time I get on Titanfall it will be a completely different game, they had been constantly updating it and changing it around to get the game working / running smoothly while making it even more interesting.

        I wonder if the Last of Us DLC: Left Behind was included in your Season Pass? Didn’t it come out as a standalone as well? or did you actually have to have the disc to play it? Did you try it online? I heard people rave about how good the online play was.. (I don’t know.. I sold my copy too! LOL but more so because I got a new system, and I was only half way through the story when I moved my console to the bedroom, and I am too old to stay awake once my body hits the bed.. so my ps3 never plays anything! LOL)

        Add me on PSN – LoVe4DaGaMe or Xbox Live – 4SaK3N1

        Look forward to playing with you.

  • Kyle Jackson

    I’m confused buy all the versions of Watch Dogs I can buy, 3 choices I believe. I’m on PC, which one should I buy?

    • http://www.gamersheroes.com/ Captain Camper

      Unless you want to spend a lot more $$ for character figures and whatnot with the DedSec Edition, I would just stick to the standard one :)

      • Kyle Jackson

        Thank you Captain :)