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.