With the advent of so many great games coming out one definite change I’ve noticed in my buying habits is the gradual dropping of buying “Ultimate” Editions (that include a Season Pass). That is not to say I still don’t purchase them, as I have pre-ordered Far Cry 5 and The Crew 2 Gold Editions. What I find now though is that I am scrutinising what the season passes contain, and also whether it is a franchise I spend a lot of hours on.
An interesting example where I haven’t bought a season pass is Assassin’s Creed Origins. It is an amazing game, but I didn’t buy the season pass and probably never will. Why you may ask? The two DLC expansions for Assassin’s Creed Origins are likely to add up to only half what the season pass costs. The rest are paying for gear sets and in game currency to shortcut / buy better gear, a lot of which you can get within the game.
This got me thinking – are season passes still worth it? I’ve noticed that their doesn’t seem to be much monetary value in buying them early. There seems to be a couple of variations on the season pass theme occurring, which is worth some discussion.
Season Pass Type One – Being available at launch or pre-order.
I have bought a few of these, including pre-orders. More recently I have started to question this approach a lot more. There doesn’t seem to be a huge monetary value in buying straight away. Sometimes you also have minimal idea as to what is included in the season pass as well.
These types of season passes, the “Ultimate Editions” mean you don’t really know what you are paying the extra cash for. It also gives the publisher more money up-front, without legally being tied to what ends up being included. Season passes are generally described in a sense from the start, but that can change.
A season pass doesn’t promise all the content, and a “season” seems to be pretty subjective. The Forza series is a good example here. A season is effectively six months, or six car packs. Of course Turn 10 and Playground Games got around the official season pass idea by not calling it a season pass, so we have “Car Pass” and “Expansion Pass” instead. In some ways this does clarify the situation further now in terms of that franchise.
Season Pass Type Two – Representing subsequent yearly content.
This is not new either but is slowly catching on. Some games, instead of releasing annual new games, have starting subscribing to this model to extend the original game. Rainbow 6 Siege is a good example of this. The game has been out for a couple of years and is getting annual updates (approximately the same cost as the original game, if not a bit cheaper) to keep players coming back.
Elite Dangerous is another example of this. The Horizons expansion is actually still going and continually providing content, well over 12 months since the game first launched. Another example is Rock Band 4. Harmonix announced pretty early that they would just keep adding new features and content to the base game (Rivals being the latest new content expansion), as opposed to making Rock Band 5.
These are examples of a different kind of season pass, and one that I am more happy to support. It effectively gives you more content to play with some time after original release. It doesn’t feel like you are having to buy it upfront, and the developers are happy to let the vanilla game stand on its own merits for a while.
What do you think? Do you pre-order the game with season passes or prefer to wait? Feel free to vote or share your thoughts in the comments.