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Season Passes...for every season?
Posted on Tuesday, February 26 2013 @ 12:34:23 Eastern

This member blog post was promoted to the GameRevolution homepage.

When Rockstar Games introduced the first season pass via L.A. Noire, it seemed to be quite a novel and great idea. In essence I would get a discount on all future DLC for what was going to be another epic Rockstar title. Blinded by the light, the assumption that Rockstar would put out a trash game or even trash DLC was to some unfathomable. Reputable publisher + brand loyalty…this could work. What has now become somewhat of an industry norm for AAA titles holds little in common with the initial assumptions.

Season passes do not encompass all future DLC; for instance, look at Darksiders 2 where the season pass entitles you to 3 DLC but numerous others are only for individual purchase. I don’t think this was the original idea, but hey, things change based on market response to new gaming conventions. One of the best aspects of purchasing these season passes was the reduced cost associated with the advanced and bundled purchase. This concept, however, is more effective when the consumer believes the value of the DLC to be consistent with the pricing model established by the publisher. What happens when you have asshat Publisher A offer a season pass for future DLC that turns out to be trash…well, you have a problem! 
  1. It diminishes consumer trust in the mechanism – I am paying in advance for something I know nothing about and may not like…is the discount worth it? Even if at the discount I believe it is still **** DLC for the price?
  2. Each time expectations are not met, the novelty and cost effectiveness of the idea is impacted by the reality of the offering and sales of season passes as a whole diminish, as consumers are more skeptical about paying for the unknown. Particularly from unvetted Publishers and more importantly publishers who have previously not met the expectations of the consumer.

 
What happens next… well, the publishers still have to make cash. So let’s dilute the original premise by saying the Season Pass entitles you to this set number of DLC but let's also make additional DLC to be purchased by those skeptical to purchase a season pass (which typically has a significantly greater price point than its individual parts). So my season pass no longer entitles me to all future DLC? So in essence should we possibly call it DLC bundles so it isn’t such a misnomer? But then there are still folks who perceive season passes as a great value… which they can be… if done right. So as consumers, what do you do with this ever-changing busisness model.
 
Well, when I got tired of paying $60 for new games that turned out to be in my opinion only worth $15-$30 bucks, I delayed purchase… which I really should sit down one day and do a cost analysis of the savings, but that is for a separate post (has been working out very well!). I guess the same can be done for DLC. I noticed when I recently purchased Darksiders 2 that the season pass was still available. Since THQ has closed, I think it may have been one of the factors leading to the decreased price of $15 for the game only 6 months after release at $60. I was thinking $15 + $20 (season pass(all DLC?)) = $35 for a fun 6-month-old game with no multiplayer *WIN. What was weird was that there was a bunch of other DLC and it made me wonder what happened to the original idea behind the season pass and thus this entry.
 
I guess the end point of this entry is that video games are big business and the business models implemented to get your hard-earned cash are going to continue to change frequently and your purchasing thresholds will be tested more and more, particularly as we move into the next-generation of consoles where increased costs can be responded to with blanket statements of novelty of technology. As gamers and consumers, if you watch and are able to adapt your spending habits to these practices, you won’t be nearly as frustrated with the tactics being used. Plus, we are a community organized around access to information, regardless of generation. Gamers are on the net and as a byproduct, if we are able to recognize universally douchebag-like practices and respond accordingly en masse, you would be surprised how much impact you can have on the pricing of consoles, videogames, and their DLC.
 
Sidenote: I was also inspired to write this by the BioShock Infinite “early bird” season pass special which made me think that they may possibly be offering an early bird season pass as well as a season pass post release that will have less component offering though both may be called season passes. Yet another possible change to the business model.

The opinions expressed here does not necessarily reflect the views of Game Revolution, but we believe it's worthy of being featured on our site. This article has been lightly edited for grammar and image inclusion. It has been submitted for our monthly Vox Pop competition. You can find more Vox Pop articles here. ~Ed. Nick
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