When something seems too good to be true it usually is and I remain a firm believer in that statement. The latest craze in regards to DLC is the Season Pass. For those of you unfamiliar with this booming concept I’ll give you the low down real quick. The DLC Season Pass gives gamers the opportunity to purchase a collection of DLC packs at a discounted price. The content from the Season Pass will slowly disseminate down to the gamer over a period of time and is usually specified in the pass’s details. To some this concept is a great idea and has the potential to save them money, but then you have the speculative and slightly pessimistic people like me who will provide an oppositional view on the topic. This brings me to the question; is the Season Pass a scam or a genuine offering from publishers/developers?
When I first started hearing about these passes I believe it was around the time of L.A. Noire’s release and Rockstar was putting forth a pass that gave the players all of the DLC for around $10. This included suits, weapons, and additional cases and at the time I felt like I had hit the jackpot. Well I stopped playing L.A. Noire after a less than satisfactory ending and didn’t feel like returning to play the additional content I had paid for. Before any of you get ahead of yourself, I know it was my decision to stop playing the game and I could have easily downloaded and completed the additional cases, I just didn’t want to, I was jaded. With that being said my situation wasn’t an isolated case; I had quite a few colleagues and friends not finish the supplementary content either, but let’s move on.
One of my biggest issues with the Season Pass isn’t the price or even having to wait a long time to get the content, it is what you are actually getting in the pass. The vague descriptions and generalities are very misleading and will piss off more than a few. For instance the Forza 4 season pass gives you 6 car packs for $30 (saving around $12), but you don’t have a choice as to what you get. Good or bad you already paid for it and Microsoft has your $30 bucks. One way to rectify this glaring issue could be to have a variety of packs and users get to choose from a selection of content. Granted this would cause the developer (in this case Turn 10) to generate more content and might negate the discounted price, but I find it only fair to offer a choice.
My next gripe is completely circumstantial, but I feel it is worthy of discourse and it is, are you actually going to still be playing a game 6 months or a year down the road? A lot of gamers have extremely short attention spans and some even have the propensity to trade in games prematurely to cash in on a trade bonus. So what is to stop a major publisher from cashing in on that psychology? Nothing really, it is an ingenious way to make a profit. So say Gamer “X” buys Gears of War 3, scores the season pass at retail (up to about $90 now) and beats it, might redeem one of those packs, gets sick of it and trades it in. Microsoft just made bank off of Gamer “X”. A lot of things need to fall perfectly into place for that to be a problem against season passes, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it has happened a few times already. This leads me into my next paranoid theory about the season pass, next paragraph please.
It is blatantly obvious that video game publishers don’t like retailers like GameStop selling their products pre-owned and reaping a sizeable profit from it. The same game could be traded in and bought used multiple times and the publisher is only going to see that profit once. So my next speculation is that the season pass is being used as another device (sometimes in conjunction with an online pass) to recover lost funds from the sale of used games. Think about it, remember Gamer “X”? If that scenario happened enough times publishers would not be complaining at all because they are still seeing some of that sweet dough. They could call it the Attention Deficit Recuperation Model (I should copyright that, oh well). I am probably just being super paranoid, but that is how my mind operates and I wouldn’t be surprised if some executive at Activision or EA or even Microsoft had the same train of thought.
This trend is not one that is likely to subside anytime soon. I personally have zero impetus to buy into a season pass even if it can save me money. I do purchase DLC, but I purchase content that I want, not content that has been consolidated haphazardly into a pass. Now that I am done ranting about this tell us what you think. Do you think the season pass is well natured or a devious plot to suck consumers wallets dry? Sound off in the comments section and give us your two cents on the matter. Stay tuned for more opinion pieces like this and as always you can follow us on Twitter @GamersAbstract and like us on Facebook for more content.