The Season Pass: Good, Bad, or Just Plain Profitable?

Let’s face it: the season pass is going to be part of the video game industry for the foreseeable future. DLC is as crucial to the industry as making the actual game it seems these days, virtually every major title that comes out will have extra content rolled out a few months after a game’s release or even on the day of release. (Day One DLC is a totally different issue that I won’t even bother to tackle in this piece.)

It’s not as if bundling DLC together for a season pass is necessarily a bad concept and it does make a ton of sense, both in terms of business and for the consumer. The consumer typically ends up saving money to get DLC for whatever game they bought said season pass for. My bigger issue with season passes, as a concept, is that so much DLC is completely lackluster and not even worth the price tag in the first place. A lot of DLC feels forced and not that innovative or very interesting. It feels tacked on and quickly done to make a decent profit because of course people are going to want more content for their favorite games almost as a default.

I can’t necessarily complain about the existence of the season pass because people are buying them. There’s obviously a market for their existence considering almost every major title continue to have enormous amounts of DLC and season passes available before the game even comes out on the shelves. And even the pricing of some of these season passes are enormous, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare has a $50 price tag for its season pass. Destiny has a $35 price tag just for two expansion packs (with the first one already being out and being criticized for being lackluster). We can assume that Destiny is almost altering the season pass concept in the sense that it’ll have multiple sets of ‘expansion packs’ instead of a definitive season pass that contains all of the game’s future content. I’m not really sure how I feel about that and developers actually moving forward with something like that. It seems like it could potentially cheat the consumer out of getting DLC at good prices and instead it’ll overcharge them in the end.

I’m not saying the season pass shouldn’t really exist because it probably should and plenty of developers are doing it correctly to offer some decent DLC worth the price tag. But at the same time, so much DLC as a complete package isn’t even worth the season pass price tag and has caused me to avoid most season passes like the plague, it just doesn’t seem worth it at all to me. I can go buy a completely different game instead of buying a season pass in a lot of cases at this point. It may not even be the season pass that is inherently the problem and rather that developers need to actually just make better DLC. DLC that is up to par with what main game’s are offering, actually giving the consumer something new or interesting (such as The Last of Us Left Behind which helped flesh out the main game’s story even further) and not just tacked on content to make a quick profit due to a video game franchise name. DLC and season passes are part of the industry and will continue to be and if anything, developers just need to make better content to justify the price tags they’re trying to give the consumer.