The impending death of the Season Pass

Multiplayer players rejoice.  It is looking as though we are, gradually, seeing Season Passes come to an end.  

Season passes have been used for years to allow publishers to squeeze additional revenue from their popular multiplayer games.  Additional maps, weapons and game modes have allowed them to charge extra to keep players playing.  To those who can’t or won’t afford the passes these expansion passes can spoil their experience.  

That said, season passes to single player games (I’m thinking of you Zelda: Breath of the Wild) can be wonderful ways to keep on playing.  The problem with season passes is how they splinter the community of online multiplayer titles.  New maps and modes result in many players without passes leaving games and moving on to pastures new.

The death of the Season Pass

Thankfully though several big multiplayer games have recently not had a season pass.  Instead games such as Titanfall 2, Overwatch, Splatoon, Star Wars Battlefront 2, For Honor and Rainbow Six Siege have allowed all players access to everything post release.

For now the two behemoths of Call of Duty and Battlefield still use Season Passes.  Recently I’ve found myself drifting away from Battlefield 1 thanks to its Season Pass.  The Operations that I’m locked out of are turning me off playing.  

What is the greatest chance of removing Season Passes?

At this year’s E3 there were many exciting announcements.  One of the greatest was overlooked by many: EA’s Star Wars Battlefront 2 will see all of its post launch DLC being free to all players.

EA are renowned for being incredibly greedy.  Of all the major publishers they quite possibly have the worst reputation for overpriced post launch additional content.  Star Wars Battlefront 2 looks set to be an absolutely HUGE game.  This movement away from paid for content for such a major title from EA is a strong indication that the industry might be moving away from Season passes.  If Star Wars Battlefront 2 kills it later this year we could well see other big games ditch Season Passes in the future.

What will publishers do without Expansion Passes?

We should all be happy that it is looking as though we’re soon to see the end of Season Passes.  Publishers will still look to make additional profit from their games post launch.  Instead of Season Passes we are sure to see a bug push on in game cosmetic items.

Overwatch is a very strong indication of the shooter business model for shooters.  All future maps, heros and modes are free to anyone who owns the game.  Loot crates are used to reward the player with a huge selection of in game cosmetic items.  These loot crates can be seen in games such as Rocket League, Gears of War 4 and Battlefield 1.  

With more and more games looking to offer traditional Season Pass DLC for free loot crates full of cosmetic items are only going to grow and grow.

This is a win – win for both players and publishers.  Players get the content that really matters for free.  The best games will see players sticking with them for longer and inevitably paying more for extra cosmetic items.  This will reward the creators of the games that attract the largest, long term players.  It will encourage games to ensure their content encourages the community to grow, not shrink.

The big question is when will the two major series of Call of Duty and Battlefield move to a free DLC model.  Once that happens we could well have seen the end of the Season Pass.